Sledgehammer to Crack a Nut?Fairness after Divorce.

Financial support – yes or no?

Separating is one thing. Financially separating is quite another.

One of the questions you will both need to look at during your discussions when divorcing is whether you can be independent of each other financially. A ‘clean break’ is the aim wherever possible; in fact it is a duty of the court to look to this.

A clean break means cutting the financial ties between you – leaving the relationship financially and moving into a new independent financial life

‘to put the past behind ….and to begin a new life which is not overshadowed by the relationship which has broken down’ *

There can be an immediate clean break or a clean break later on….

You too may wish to cut those ties between you, once and for all, but is that practicable or even possible? Would it be feasible or fair to do so? If there are small children involved, maybe not. But there is a duty to consider it and to measure and weigh carefully the competing concerns you and your ex will have of affordability and need

Decisions around whether or not there should be ongoing financial support to an ex (spousal maintenance) can be one of the hardest nuts to crack. It can bring up many emotions: from both the proposed ‘payer’ and ‘payee’. Someone who has worked hard during the relationship doesn’t necessarily feel inclined to continue doing so for their ex after they have divorced; ‘I don’t want to be working for you for ever…’ And the ex might be thinking; ‘I don’t want to be reliant on you forever, but I have no choice at the moment’

…and every shade of response in between.

Maybe you’ve had a really traditional marriage where one of you works outside of the home, taking the role of ‘provider’ and the other works within the home, taking the role of ‘homemaker’. Or perhaps you have both decided, out of expediency or simply preference, that one of you should remain at home to take care of the children.

Whatever your situation, be aware that there is increasing support for the notion that even where there are young children, if they are over 7, mothers might well be expected to consider part-time working.

‘Divorcees with children over 7 years old should be working for a living’ concluded the media in a recent case

And it will be important to look at ways of maximising earning capacity and thinking ahead for the future, for both of you. What happens when your circumstances change; a new job, a new partner; another child?

And if you are already in an arrangement where spousal support is being paid, what happens if that can no longer be sustained? Remember this is an element of your original divorce settlement that can be varied.

Mediation can offer a forum for the all – important discussion necessary for you both to arrive at something acceptable, which takes into account the effect on the payer and the effect of the person receiving so that you each feel you’ve been treated as fairly as possible.

If you would like more information about how to crack the nut of spousal support without the use of a sledgehammer and find out about the cost of mediation and how it can save you time, money and stress in the end, contact New Landscape Mediation on 01279 211 657 and speak to one of our accredited family mediators, for a fully confidential, no obligation discussion of your needs.

*Lord Scarman in Minton v Minton