Waiver of upkeep proves to be a sticking level

I find it difficult to understand why my wife makes future maintenance waiver such a big issue. We have been married for nine years and have three children. We’re both teachers and we do well as teachers, but that’s partly because we tutor, coach, and work in summer camps. We try to get through the divorce process on our own because neither of us has extra money to pay lawyers.

I thought I read the Maintenance Act correctly – if either of us got maintenance it would end after about 7.5 years. Our incomes are within $ 20,000 so I’m not sure why she thinks future child support payments should be left open. It seems like she’s only entitled to about $ 6,500 a year if I keep doing all the extra work.

Am I getting the maintenance guidelines wrong, or are we both just thinking too much about it?

Just because child support is not paid now does not mean that things will not change in the future that warrant such an order. One of you could get sick and be unable to work; one of your children could get sick and prevent one of you from working; one of you could change your career and suddenly earn significantly more money. It’s hard to predict the future since you are signing an agreement today.

Take a step back and think about it from your wife’s perspective. You’re both smart people, and she probably read the alimony and maintenance laws too. At the moment neither of you is entitled to maintenance from the other as your total income appears to be within the amount that is only taken into account for child maintenance. For the calculation of the maintenance limit, the years run parallel to the years in which maintenance payments are made. In seven and a half years you will still have three children with no income from work, i.e. no maintenance unless you change jobs with a significantly higher income. That realistically means that none of you will ever be entitled to maintenance. As you scratch your head trying to figure out why she would want a safety net that is unlikely to be used, you realize that the safety net is protecting you too.

This topic is not something to argue about. Agree to waive past and present alimony payments and leave future alimony payments for amendment if circumstances change materially. You can write the time limit for future maintenance, if any, in the contract so that there are no misunderstandings.

If you get stuck with such an issue, consider hiring a family law attorney as a mediator to help you finalize the agreement.

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