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Harris, Family Law Expert
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 2851
Experience:  Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
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Our 28 year old son is contemplating divorce. Briefly s wife

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Our 28 year old son is contemplating divorce. Briefly his wife has an 8 year old daughter from a previous relationship and they have been married for three years. He used all his savings to secure a mortgage, putting a £15,000 deposit on a house that they live in. The father of the child has never made a payment towards his daughters maintenance and he has been in receipt of legal aid for the past six years during which time he has successfully managed to get the courts, social services and Cafcass on his side. The relationship between my son and his wife was once brilliant but the stress levels brought about by the never ending pressure, personal and financial, has become too much by far. The childs father has now been arrested and charged with sexual activity towards a child as the daughter finally told her teacher at school about what had been happening. It is a nightmare story of failure by the Courts to protect the child with the mother never being believed. It is as if the daughter has been sexually abused by order of the court as our daughter-in-law has been told by social services, cafcass and the family courts that if she refuses to cooperate with facilitating unsupervised contact the child would be put in care.
My question, relates to potential court expectations as to our sons future financial commitments in the event of a divorce - is he now responsible for his step-daughters support? He will want a fair settlement but what would a fair settlement amount to these days please?

Hi, thank you for your question. Just a bit more information required to fully assist you:

-How old are they both?
-Do they any children together, if so their ages and proposed arrangements?

-Did he consider the other child his child and did he fully provide for her?
-What other assets and pensions do they both have (both sole and joint), together with values?
-What are their respective incomes?
-Whose name is ***** ***** in?

-What is the value of the property and outstanding mortgage?

-How many bedrooms does the property have?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
In the same sequence:
28 (son), 35 (wife)
No other children
No, they both work and contribute to the family financial needs
Son £60k His wife £23k
Joint names
Value £260k Outstanding mortgage £173k

Thank you for confirming and apologies for the delay in my response.

For him to be legally liable to provide for the step-daughter, the mother will need to prove that he had assumed responsibility for the child’s maintenance, whether he considered her a child of the family and the liability of any other person to maintain the child.

She may therefore be able to make a claim to remain in the home for the benefit of the child - and it will then be down to him to prove that her biological father has the resources to provide for her instead of him

Given the disparity in income, if his wife cannot meet her own reasonable needs then she can also pursue a claim for spousal maintenance to meet any shortfall in income.

He should also be aware that unless he has parental responsibility or has adopted the child, he will not legally be liable for child maintenance and his wife will need to pursue this from the biological father.

I hope this assists you. If you found this information helpful please provide a positive rating using the stars at the top of this page. I will not be credited for answering your question without a positive rating. Thank you

Harris, Family Law Expert
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 2851
Experience: Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
Harris and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you

My name is ***** ***** I have been a Family solicitor for more than 30 years
I am afraid that in fact your son is likely to have to pay maintenance for the child given that he has clearly been supporting her to date as you say that the biological father is not making any payments.
His wife cannot use the CSA to ask for maintenance - but she can ask for it as part of a financial Order within the divorce proceedings

In addition the housing needs of the child will be a priority so far as the Court is concerned and he may not be able to force a sale unless he can show that if the house is sold his wife would be able to afford to buy a replacement property

The substantial difference in their incomes certainly makes spouse maintenance for a short period of time a real possibility - but not a certainty