Gransnet forums

Legal & money

Spousal maintenance to husband in retirement

(52 Posts)
Heartandhome Sun 28-Feb-21 16:44:24

Experience and advice please-sorry a lot of background here

Perhaps unusual as other way round for most people I suspect

About to go to solicitor to kick off divorce. All financial information available and open to both of us. We are both retired and receiving pensions. Stbexh has both occupational pension and state. I have my occupational pension but not state pension for another 9 years

My total current pensions are roughly 60% more than his. This has arisen because he was not working for last 15 years pre retirement and prior to that in and out of work. I had to ( it wasn’t a choice) to work extremely hard full time to support us and our 2 kids ( no longer dependant and left home). The reason he did not work was nominally difficulties due to mental illness. However, he took many actions/ failed to take actions that led to his precarious career. This included long periods of applying for jobs he was not qualified for/ had experience, being fired for performance issues, being summarily dismissed for threatening behaviour. He refused to apply for more basic roles he could have done with his condition limitations. At times he also refused to sign onto social support meaning he did not even get benefits or NI record (we paid a lump sum just before het retired to make this up to get his max state pension). He also sold a gold plated defined benefit pension to a personal pot years ago without discussion which means he lost about £4500 guaranteed pension income ( ok, I know a lot of FPS were persuaded to do this is 1990, but I had same company ensign scheme and did not because of risk). There were occasional when we really struggled financially, we could afford very few luxuries such as any family holidays, and at times even went into a small amount of debt. So in short he made unilateral decisions about his career and future security that were at the time detrimental to us as a family and impacted his now pension income.

We now have a very healthy set of assets ( due to inheritances mainly in last 5 years and reduced outgoings due to kids leaving home) and I am in a very fortunate situation compared with many others. A straight 50:50 split will be enough for us each to buy a modest home outright and still having some healthy savings, plus be very even handed about allocating costs to cover divorce and setting us both up with new lives.

My concern is that he and his solicitor will put a claim in for spousal support and I will end up having to support him still by supplementing his pension income by taking out of my income or a settlement out of assets giving him a higher share. His pensions amount to about £14000 per year post tax, mine in the mid £20k.

I feel this would be totally unreasonable

All my salary went into our joint account but was the only income and I single handily supported the entire family for years and years. It was not a choice I made, it wasn’t needed for childcare or supporting my career ( I actually had to be his carer as well as work full time from 2008). I could not save into additional voluntary contributions to boost my own pension as there was no spare income due to him not working.

I will add he has a higher level education than me ( post grad) and when we married was on a salary twice mine ( as was also 9 years older) for first year before it all went belly up. If he had worked even part time or at more basic jobs his pensions would have been higher. If he had not got into conflict in work he would not have lost jobs in the first place.

I feel like I have already paid the price of his behaviour on how we lived when I was sole breadwinner and was earning. I am struggling at thought I would have to do this for the rest of my life after divorce

I am divorcing him on grounds of unreasonable behaviour- he now refuses medication, which is his right, but he lied repeatedly about it and we both know that unmedicated we cannot live together as there are safe guarding issues for me (and anyone else he gets in to conflict with)

Anyone know what likely outcome would be if he decided to fight me all the way to court?

Please can I ask that folks don’t jump on a band wagon of me being “entitled” or “privileged”. I had to retire early due to my own ill health bought on by dealing with this for years. I have effectively been sole breadwinner, single parent and carer. At times I have dealt with abusive behaviour due to mental health service short falls. It has been miserable. I am on anti anxiety meds for years. I’ve finally decided after 30 years, that marriage vows or not I cannot continue and maintain my own mental well-being.

Heartandhome Sun 28-Feb-21 16:51:12

Sorry about the many typos- typing on phone as can’t use the home computer as he doesn’t know yet about divorce.

EllanVannin Sun 28-Feb-21 17:05:50

Goodness me, are you sure that you will have to support him ? This is a new one on me.

Peasblossom Sun 28-Feb-21 17:10:30

You really need a good solicitor for this one.

I’m afraid, as two friends of mine have found out, that the fact that you supported him financially during the course of the marriage, counts in his favour rather than yours when it comes to divorce. One friend was the earner for almost all of the marriage and ended up having to give him part of the trust fund that had been left to her because he was a dependent.

A really savvy solicitor is what you need.

Nonogran Sun 28-Feb-21 17:19:20

Speaking from experience, if you can, try your hardest to find a way forward with a mutually agreeable plan before legals get involved. Solicitors are about £200+vat per hour in my neck of the woods so any foundation stones you can lay before solicitors are involved will help. Solicitors will also try to talk you out of or into situations which in your mind(s) are sorted & agreed. Be careful not to use your solicitor as a counsellor either!
One of my friends met & married for the first time in her forties. They divorced after 10 years together 8 years of which were married. He came to her with nothing but the clothes he stood up in & contributed very little to their household expenses (her solely owned house) or subsequent child. My friend had always saved, she inherited money, worked really hard all her adult life. Her ex husband has 'taken her to the cleaners." It's been awful for her but that's equality for you these days & I'm not saying its right or wrong. Just take care & try hard to avoid massive legal fees for want of communication with your husband. At the end of the day the solicitor is working for YOU so you can compell him/her to do what you & your husband want to be drawn up legally if you can both agree on the way forward.
I wish you good luck and emotional strength for the challenge ahead. You sound like an amazing woman & deserve the peace of mind to come.

Heartandhome Sun 28-Feb-21 17:20:26

Peasblossom

You really need a good solicitor for this one.

I’m afraid, as two friends of mine have found out, that the fact that you supported him financially during the course of the marriage, counts in his favour rather than yours when it comes to divorce. One friend was the earner for almost all of the marriage and ended up having to give him part of the trust fund that had been left to her because he was a dependent.

A really savvy solicitor is what you need.

Even though he had no income befor, but does now have pension income. He’s even paying tax now!

Elegran Sun 28-Feb-21 17:22:20

If a straight 50:50 split will be enough for you "each to buy a modest home outright and still have some healthy savings, plus be very even handed about allocating costs to cover divorce and setting us both up with new lives." surely his own pensions of £14,000 per year post tax give him a pretty acceptable standard of living?
You need a good lawyer and a good financial advisor.

Elegran Sun 28-Feb-21 17:23:40

If he can buy a house outright, he won't have any rent to pay.

Heartandhome Sun 28-Feb-21 17:23:57

Nonogran

Speaking from experience, if you can, try your hardest to find a way forward with a mutually agreeable plan before legals get involved. Solicitors are about £200+vat per hour in my neck of the woods so any foundation stones you can lay before solicitors are involved will help. Solicitors will also try to talk you out of or into situations which in your mind(s) are sorted & agreed. Be careful not to use your solicitor as a counsellor either!
One of my friends met & married for the first time in her forties. They divorced after 10 years together 8 years of which were married. He came to her with nothing but the clothes he stood up in & contributed very little to their household expenses (her solely owned house) or subsequent child. My friend had always saved, she inherited money, worked really hard all her adult life. Her ex husband has 'taken her to the cleaners." It's been awful for her but that's equality for you these days & I'm not saying its right or wrong. Just take care & try hard to avoid massive legal fees for want of communication with your husband. At the end of the day the solicitor is working for YOU so you can compell him/her to do what you & your husband want to be drawn up legally if you can both agree on the way forward.
I wish you good luck and emotional strength for the challenge ahead. You sound like an amazing woman & deserve the peace of mind to come.

Sound advice. We did agree an “exit” plan last year, but he agreed to try to take meds agin so it was parked. He agreed to not claim income.
But, he is unmediated and behaves in irrational ways at time, and as someone pointed out a solicitor may easily persuade him to claim on income or he could become a bit abusive once I serve the papers

Heartandhome Sun 28-Feb-21 17:24:27

Unmedicated

Heartandhome Sun 28-Feb-21 17:25:51

Elegran

If he can buy a house outright, he won't have any rent to pay.

Neither of us will need mortgage or rent..as I say we’re fortunate in having very healthy assets due to recent inheritances

Heartandhome Sun 28-Feb-21 17:27:21

Elegran

If a straight 50:50 split will be enough for you "each to buy a modest home outright and still have some healthy savings, plus be very even handed about allocating costs to cover divorce and setting us both up with new lives." surely his own pensions of £14,000 per year post tax give him a pretty acceptable standard of living?
You need a good lawyer and a good financial advisor.

Yes, this is my thinking...he will still have a income higher than many and a home and savings.

Peasblossom Sun 28-Feb-21 17:27:52

I think the reasoning was that he was entitled to a similar standard of living as that which he had enjoyed during the course of the marriage, given that the trust fund was sufficient for them both to enjoy this.

I was flabbergasted. The trust fund had been left to her by an uncle. She had to give him a third of it as well as half the joint assists of the marriage.

Heartandhome Sun 28-Feb-21 17:28:25

How do you find a “ good” lawyer vs a normal local one? Any advice on what to look for?

Peasblossom Sun 28-Feb-21 17:28:47

Assets

Heartandhome Sun 28-Feb-21 17:29:48

Peasblossom

I think the reasoning was that he was entitled to a similar standard of living as that which he had enjoyed during the course of the marriage, given that the trust fund was sufficient for them both to enjoy this.

I was flabbergasted. The trust fund had been left to her by an uncle. She had to give him a third of it as well as half the joint assists of the marriage.

This seems very unfair.🤨

Peasblossom Sun 28-Feb-21 17:31:32

Absolutely. I couldn’t believe it given that he’d done nothing for almost forty years except drink and go bird watching!

Tangerine Sun 28-Feb-21 17:36:59

Definitely see a Solicitor. At the very least see Citizens Advice although I expect part of their advice will be that you ought to see a Solicitor.

Heartandhome Sun 28-Feb-21 17:39:09

Peasblossom

I think the reasoning was that he was entitled to a similar standard of living as that which he had enjoyed during the course of the marriage, given that the trust fund was sufficient for them both to enjoy this.

I was flabbergasted. The trust fund had been left to her by an uncle. She had to give him a third of it as well as half the joint assists of the marriage.

This “ entitled to a similar standard of livings...” is key.
After tax our combined pensions are more than my old salary not tax that was supporting family of four And paying the mortgage.
For most of our marriage we had few assets and not the healthy ones we have now.

So, maybe that’s the way to position it..individually he will be better off then he has ever been despite divorce. “Just” not as well off as me post divorce or both of us without divorce
But given that was a choice he made.....

Heartandhome Sun 28-Feb-21 17:39:31

Net tax not “ not tax”

Jaxjacky Sun 28-Feb-21 17:44:22

If you google women’s divorce support groups there are various ones where you may find help and guidance. The only way I would find an empathetic solicitor is via friends.

Heartandhome Sun 28-Feb-21 18:00:30

Jaxjacky

If you google women’s divorce support groups there are various ones where you may find help and guidance. The only way I would find an empathetic solicitor is via friends.

Ok, thanks for that....

DillytheGardener Sun 28-Feb-21 18:09:06

Nothing to add here other than you sound like a saint and I wish you all the luck in the world to give him the heave ho and keep your money.

trisher Sun 28-Feb-21 18:18:04

I would say look for friends that are divorced and have had a good result for them, and ask who they used. If you think you don't know any, ask about other family members. You'll be amazed how many families have divorce experience. Legal representation varies tremendously. You will both have to reveal all your financial circumstance and go to mediation where it will be discussed. It sounds at the moment as if you are living with him. It might be an idea for you to look for your own accommodation and tie money up in this. You will be entitled to a share of the property you are living in, one of the ways of avoiding maintenance payments is to use this to negogiate a no-maintenance position. So if house is worth £200000 your share would be £100000, but you could agree to reduce this to £50,000 or some other figure for a final and complete break. This must be agreed to be one there is no possibility of renegotiating. But find a good solicitor who will push for the best for you.

Smileless2012 Sun 28-Feb-21 19:21:03

I'm so sorry to learn of all that you've been through Heartandhome and for what you are now facing.

The starting point in any divorce settlement is a 50/50 split and it goes from there. It's not unusual for some women to find themselves having to provide spousal support.

As others have already said, you need a good solicitor and I would think that everything you've told us about needs to be documented to support your case if he does go for spousal support. However, as Peasblossom has posted, your H's entitlement to maintain a similar standard of life in accordance with what he's had during the marriage, will be taken into account.

Get some legal advice and with your solicitor, come up with a reasonable settlement that if he would be agreeable too would save you both a lot in legal fees, not to mention stress.

Good luck.