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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34889
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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My wife was awarded about £18k maintenance per year when we

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My wife was awarded about £18k maintenance per year when we went to court about 3 years ago. The sum is for spousal and child maintenance (i have a 14 year old and 12 year old) but is not split between the two as such. A lifetime order was made. At the time my earnings had increased over several years to peak at the time of the hearing at about £65k net per anum and the judge said the award was made on the assumption I earned that much. I now earn about £45k net per year over the last 2 years (the same as i had earned in the few years leading up to the divorce, just not the £65k in the actual year of divorce). My wife got a capital sum of about £315k to buy a mortgage free house. This was about 75% of our assets. I now live with my new partner who earns about £20k net and has a 10 year old son. I don't really mind paying the £18k whil she has the children living with her and in education but what really gets me is the lifetime order and it frankly is something I think about and distresses me all the time. I have 2 queries really. My ex says (and had a gp note at the time of the financial hearing 3 years ago) she is not fit for work and is signed off but she seems fine and is taking kids on camping holidays etc. and has always been workshy and her illness is all a bit intangible rather than being down to an obvious, visable, ailment (1) is it worth going back to court to seek to vary the order, particulalrly it's length, as my earnings have dropped, even though I life with a partner who has a reasonable income (2) what should I do to put myself in a position to have more chance of success at getting the lifetime aspect of the order removed. I am 51 and my ex is 53 by the way. Should I consider e.g. having her followed to see what she gets up to as frankly I can't see what she does with her day as kids are away from 7.30 a.m. to about 6.45 pm during school time and I have the for half the holidays. Can you recomend a lawyer who is specialist in getting lifetime orders overturned? Please... I need help as this is just getting me more and more down the longer it goes on!

Thank you for your question

My name is Clare

I shall do my best to help you but I need further details

What is the exact wording of the Order?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The respondent shall pay the applicant £346 per week by way of spousal periodical payments every Monday until her death or remarriage or further Order. Such sum to be reduced pro tanto by any sums payable as child maintenance in respect of the children persuant to the child support act 1991 (nobody has gone to the child support agency by the way)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Clare - I should have added that with state benefits, child support, my ex is on about £24k per annum I believe.

Have you worked out what the CSA assessment would be?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Clare, I haven't worked out the exact CSA payments as I assumed because of the wording of the order that I will have to pay her the £346 whatever the CSA calculation was (unless it was higher of course but don't think it would be at all from the rough calculation I did a few years ago).

I understand that - but before you do anything about the order you need to know how much the Child Maintenance would be

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK thanks Claire - not sure why it matters (but don't worry about I accept it does!) and it would be £137 per week.

The fact that your income is £20,000 less than originally expected is a good reason for applying to the court for a reduction in the spouse maintenance.

before doing so I suggest that you get a CMS assessment so that the issue of the Child Maintenance does not muddy the waters.

Once that is out of the way then you apply on a Form A.

At this stage concentrate on the amount not the time - only when (and it is when) it is brought up in court should you look at the timing - but be aware of you wish to change it then you may have to pay a further lump sum.

There is no point whatsoever in attacking her capacity to work - it will backfire on you badly

Please ask if you need further details

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Clare thanks for that as is pretty clear. My only query is why it would badly backfire if I attacked her capacity to work (especially if I gathered some evidence) as it seems wrong that she should get a lifetime order anyway but especially if she is actually capable of doing some work (it is pretty well known that claims for benefits are not always rigerously tested, or at least doing something to try and e.g. train for work in due course if she is up to some e.g. training?

You can certainly raise the issue of training - but questioning what she does with her day or having her followed will be seen as aggressive and harassing

You can ask for a medical report IF she fights the application but you need to ensure that the court does not view her as the "poor little woman"

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK thanks very much Clare - you've been a great help and much appreciated

You are most welcome

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