One of the major worries on separation will be how to “make ends meet” and ensure that all the household bills are paid. This will particularly be the case if one of a couple (often the husband) has moved out of the family home leaving his wife or partner to provide for and support the children.
The rules are different depending upon whether or not a former couple are married or have children. If you are married at the time of the separation, then the partner with the lower income maybe entitled to claim “spousal maintenance” from the higher earner.
In addition, if you have children living with you then you will be able to claim Child Support maintenance for each of the children.
However, if you are not married then you will not be entitled to claim spousal maintenance from your former partner, but will only be entitled to seek Child Support.
New provisions for child support have been introduced from December 2013.
If, as is often the case, the paying parent shares care of the children then this can reduce the amount of the Child Support that needs to be paid. If, on average, the children stay over with the paying parent for more than one night a week (including extended time during holidays), then the basic percentage payment is reduced by 1/7th. If the children stay overnight on average more than two nights a week, then it is reduced by 2/7th and so on.
If the parent responsible to make Child Support payments refuses to do so, then an application has to be made to the Child Support Agency by the parent who the children live with. An assessment is carried out by the Agency and is then enforced through their procedures. It is not possible in most cases to make an application to the Court for Child Support Maintenance Orders. The Court does not have the ability to make orders for child maintenance, other than in exceptional cases where the parents are very high wage earners, in which case the Court can make an order to “top up” the maximum amount of maintenance that otherwise can be required through a child support assessment.
Unfortunately, there is no simple formula to work out spousal maintenance in the way that there is for child support. In working out the amount of spousal maintenance, various factors have to be balanced against each other:-
Unfortunately, it is not always possible to come to agreement, despite the best efforts of both partners and their solicitors. It is commonly the case that the surplus income the higher wage earner has left after payment of his/her reasonable expenses is not enough to meet the shortfall of the other partner. In such a case, Angela Moores will do all that we can to support negotiations. In the absence of an agreement, an application can be made to the Court and the Judge will determine what is a fair and reasonable amount of maintenance to be paid.