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 Finances - Income

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Income or Maintenance issues during a divorce

If you separate or divorce you are likely to have less money coming into the household. There are two types of maintenance:  

  • Money for you
  • Money for your children

Money for you

Often the most immediate issue when you separate is what your spouse should be paying if you are left in the house.  There is no set magic formula for this. 

S25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 sets out a list of things that a Judge would have to consider when deciding what level of payment should be made. Maintenance can be agreed, or ordered on an “interim” basis and the level of payment may change, or stop altogether, at a later date e.g.. upon sale of a house.

As a general rule, it is important that the household bills and mortgage are paid until what is to happen to the house is finally sorted out. 

This is particularly important where there are children. 

A District Judge would take into account income of both husband and wife and the outgoings of each of them. It is often a very good starting point to sit down with your bank statements and draw up a list of your direct debits and outgoings, such as how much the food shopping and petrol are each week. 

Make sure you are doing your best to get as much income into the household as you can e.g.. by claiming tax credits if you are eligible.  Work out what your shortfall is of outgoings as against total income.  If there is not enough money to go round, then any outgoings which are not “necessities” will be discounted by a Court. If you cannot reach an agreement, an application to the Court can be made.

As an alternative to letting the court decide on your finances, family mediation could help you decide how things are to be split prior to any court proceedings.

Money for your children

The Court’s power to make orders of child maintenance is now greatly restricted by the Child Support Agency.  The circumstances in which the Court can make orders are not common eg. if a child is disabled, or if school fees are to be paid.

The Child Support Agency website is comprehensive and provides guidance about the rates that would be paid, if an application were made to them.  If you come to an agreement, and are divorcing, the agreement about child maintenance can be approved as a Court Order making it enforceable through the Court in the event that the payer fails to pay.

If you are having difficulty agreeing what should happen with regards to children, family mediation could help you with compromise and agree the fairest soulution for everyone.