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My ex has a new partner – can I cut my maintenance payments?

Article updated May 2023

“My ex is now living with a new partner. Can I stop or reduce child maintenance payments?”

Child maintenance

No. There are no grounds for reducing child maintenance on the basis that your ex is living with a new partner. Child maintenance remains payable regardless of their new living arrangements.

However, if your circumstances change, for example, if you lose your job or have another child for whom you are financially responsible, you may be able to request that the Child Maintenance Service re-evaluate the amount of child maintenance payable.

Another common question is, do I have to pay child maintenance if my ex remarries? Whether you have remarried, or your ex-partner has remarried has no bearing on your child maintenance obligations. So, if your ex marries a new partner, you will still be required to pay child maintenance.

Spousal maintenance

A similar principle applies to spousal maintenance, also known as periodical payments.

You will still be required to pay any spousal maintenance when your former spouse moves in with a new partner. However, if they remarry, the obligation to pay spousal maintenance automatically ends.

You may also be able to change the amount of spousal maintenance payable, or the duration of the agreement, during the lifespan of the legal order. However, it would be necessary to make an application to the Court.

Spousal maintenance is typically ordered to end at a specified time, for example, after an agreed number of years, once the youngest child reaches 18, on the death of either party, or of the party receiving payments remarries. However, there are exceptions.

The original court order will have set out the terms of your spousal maintenance agreement, including how much you should pay and the circumstances in which the agreement will reach and end.

What would the Court consider?

If you chose to make a court application to vary spousal maintenance, what would the Court consider before making a decision? You would need to show the Court that there has been a change in either your financial circumstances or those of your ex-spouse.

Your ex living with a new partner would not necessarily be enough justification. You would need to go a few steps further. Points to consider include:

  • Does your ex live with their new partner full time?
  • Is your ex-spouse is being supported financiallyby their new partner
  • Who pays the rent or mortgage on their home?
  • Does their new partner contribute towards the bills?
  • Are they living in a home owned outright by their new partner, reducing their living costs?

It may be that you are struggling to meet the payments due to a change in your own personal circumstances. You may have lost your job, or your income may not have kept pace with inflation and the rising cost of living. Your current financial situation may look very different to when your spousal maintenance order was made.

Alternatively, you may have remarried and had more children, meaning your income is stretched further than it was before.

If you find yourself in any of these situations, then you may have grounds to vary the spousal maintenance order.

As always, the Court will consider the welfare of any children whilst making a decision and where possible will wish to give the party receiving payments time to adjust to a change in income to limit the risk of hardship.

The Judge has wide discretion to determine whether the payments should come to an end, be suspended, or go up or down. They can even make an order for the spousal maintenance to effectively be paid off in one or more lump sums, provided there is enough capital.

There is a duty upon the Court to consider a clean break at the earliest opportunity. If the circumstances allow it, you may be able to get the spousal maintenance order terminated.

A word of warning however. The success of applications to the court to vary existing arrangements depends very much on the specific facts of each case. It is essential to consult a lawyer before you look to change your spousal maintenance payments.

Get in touch

If you would like any advice about child maintenance or spousal maintenance, please do contact our Client Care Team to speak to one of our specialist family lawyers.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. keith says:

    ive never been married so never found myself in this situation but what i would say is that the rules should be changed.
    for instance, if your X wife meets a new partner who is very wealthy and living in a million pound house then she moves in with him living the millionaire lifestyle i would say the maintenance should no longer be paid. it should always be based on the lifestyle and income of all involved. living with a wealthy man then still claiming the maintenance from your X could be viewed as plain Greedy. especially when it could lower the living std of the X husband who might be living in a council house and only earning the national min wage.
    a similar Moral question is when we hear about a celebrity who was still claiming child benefit even though this person is a millionaire. very very wrong.

  2. Andrew says:

    CB is not means-tested, Keith.

    • James says:

      That’s Keith’s point Andrew. It should be means tested. Many fathers have not chosen out of choice to have their child taken away from them.

      The courts have decided this – if there are significant changes in financial circumstances that should be taken into account for CB.

  3. Andrew says:

    My ex wife has our daughter one day extra a week.. and my csa has just gone up again.. I have a 3 year old with my now wife… I have my daughter 3 days week.. and my payment for my ex looking after her for one day is £32. A week one day… I pay for school uniform school lunch and swimming.. and anything else she needs… her mother has had to partners in 6 years…. she works full time.. so why am I paying so mush for 1 day..

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