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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 35058
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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I am a 50 years old male and have been married 1 year (for

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I am a 50 years old male and have been married 1 year (for the first time) to a woman who has a 13 year-old girl from a previous marriage. My wife has been acrimoniously divorced from her ex-husband 2.5 years. She does not work (has not worked for 10 years) and has full time care of the child (including during her 5 months holiday) except every other weekend when the child is with her father. My wife has never received spousal maintenance from her ex-husband. He contributes £800 per month towards the cost of raising the child and pays 65% of her school fees and extras (around £15,000 year). My wife (supported by me) pays the remainder of the school fees and extras about 35% (around £7,500 per year). This arrangement is to continue until the child leave tertiary education. In a nutshell this is the financial arrangement. The ex-husband earns around £120,000 gross per year.
The ex-husband is now going to court seeking to vary the arrangement. He wants my wife to meet 50% of the school fees, wants to reduce his contribution from £800 per month to £550 and want to end support when the child turns 18. His claims centre on the notion that now that we are married my wife enjoys a ‘substantial joint income’. I earn around the same as him, about £120,000 gross per year and of course I do look after my wife. We have a joint account that I pay money into as required and we own our house jointly. Indirectly my income goes towards paying for the child also, given that my wife has no source of income of her own, other than the £800 her ex-husband has been paying towards the child.
For this court appearance, the ex-husband has served me with a N20 Witness Summons duly stamped by the Central Family Court – “to give evidence in respect of above claim”. No documents have been requested. He has enclosed £100 to cover my travel and loss of time. I am currently working at a daily rate of £600 and so would be £500 out of pocket in lost earnings if I attend court. To my knowledge I have no parental responsibility for the child and have never been consulted on her schooling arrangements or any matters concerning her upbringing.
Now for the questions…
How can I apply to vary the summons to receive a fair compensation for my time? (I can prove my daily earnings beyond doubt.)
What do I have to disclose in court? (no documents have been asked of me on the summons) Does the ex-husband have the right to question me about my incomes and financial commitments?
Should I challenge the summons to have it set aside? If yes, how would I do this? The hearing is in a fortnight, which leave me little time to prepare (being in full-time work)
I would appreciate your thoughts on this.
HiThank you for your questionMy name is ***** ***** do my best to help you but I need some further information firstHow far has the applictaion reached - have Forms E been exchanged?Would you not be going with your wife in any event?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hello Clare
Form Es have been exchanged. The hearing is scheduled 11th April. In fact this is the second time my wife has been to court over this same matter. The first hearing in Nov 2015 was inconclusive, the Judge, made an order that both parties complete an S25 and return to court. I attach a scan of the Judge’s order for info. The format that we have seen of the S25 appears to suggest that this type of form is more generally used pre-divorce for the overall settlement which in my wife's case was 2.5 years ago. Nonetheless both parties have completed and exchanged the S25. Let me know if you need anything more from me.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
By the way I was not planning to go with my wife. I previously went hoping to be accepted as a McKenzie friend but was turned down by the Judge on the basis that I was "an interested party". Also as a contractor who earns a daily rate from his clients (no work = no pay), to indulge her Ex-husband's litigation games would cost us a needless £600 (my daily rate currently). I do not have entitlement to paid holidays.
How many nights a year does the child spend with her father?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
She spends 52 nights per year with her father (2 nights every alternate weekend)
Then he is already paying less in maintenance that the CMS assessment would be (12% of his gross income less one seventh reduction for the 52 nights a year) which make shis applictaion in that regard somewhat ill judged.However that was not your issue.You have a number of options.You can certainly write to the court (and to him) with evidence that he has not paid sufficient to cover your loss of earnings and requesting the balance.You would of course then need to attend.If you have not been asked to disclose any documents they you do not have to take them.You can simply attend and when he puts you on the stand say that since you do not have Parental Responsibility for the Child you see no reason why you should answer any questions and refuse to do soAlternatively you can indeed apply to the court for the Summons to be set aside on the basis that there is no evidence that you can give that your wife can not.You would need to apply to the Court on a form D11 - but this will mean that you need to attend court which will cost you time in any event.I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further detailsClare
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Clare, thank you, ***** ***** are useful. One final question if I may and then I will rate the service as requested:The witness summons was served on form N20, which looks to me like the document that would be used to issue summons in the Civil Court. The correct summons for the Family Court would have been a FP25 form. The form is similar but it refers correctly to the parties as "Applicant" and "Respondent" rather than as "Claimant" and "Defendant". Could I reasonably submit to the judge that the summons was incorrectly served (albeit on a technicality) and that I object to my wife being qualified as a "Defendant", having committed no action to defend against? After all, this is a court of Law and proper form should be followed?
Interesting argument - but in fact one the Court would not take account of!Merely point out that the wrong form was used!