Finances can be a major source of anxiety during a divorce. We take a look at whether you will be entitled to receive maintenance payments.
When a couple divorces, one party may sometimes be ordered to pay maintenance to the other party. However, this is not always the case by any means and the emphasis is on both parties becoming financially independent.
The issue of maintenance is fairly complex and the court will take several factors into account when deciding if it should be paid and how much it should be.
It is separate from any child maintenance that is paid.
Why might spousal maintenance be payable?
There is no automatic right to maintenance, but there is a duty to provide for a former spouse so that their reasonable financial needs are met. The financial needs of the paying party will also be taken into account.
This means that if one party is in a better place financially than the other, they may be required to make regular payments to ensure that their former spouse has their reasonable ongoing financial needs taken care of.
What will the court consider in deciding how much should be paid?
Where one party has given up their career or opportunities for advancement to raise the children of the marriage and it has left them in a financially weaker position, the court will take this into account.
The court will also look at the standard of living during the marriage when considering the amount of any maintenance, although this will be balanced with the aim of encouraging independence.
Both parties will need to disclose all of their financial assets and also draw up a schedule of their anticipated future expenditure. The court will attempt to achieve fairness for both parties in making its award.
How long will maintenance be payable for?
The court will look to make an order that allows the weaker party to become independent as soon as is just and reasonable. This could mean maintenance for between two and five years for example, and is known as a fixed term order.
Even if there is some hardship in transferring to financial independence, this is considered preferable to long term maintenance. However, if the person receiving payments would suffer undue hardship if they ended, the court will consider continuing maintenance. This could occur if one party had not worked for many years because they were raising the children of the family, and the court might in this case make an order providing maintenance for life, known as a lifetime order.
Both parties have an ongoing duty to inform each other of any substantial change in their financial or other circumstances. They can also apply to the court to vary the maintenance order if there is a change in the funds they have available.
If the party that is receiving maintenance remarries, the maintenance (but not child maintenance) received from their former spouse will end.
If you are going through a divorce or separation and you would like to speak to one of our expert lawyers, ring us on 0345 241 3100 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org