Helping you to navigate the, at times, complicated process of getting a divorce, on the blog today Olivia Barry from the Stowe Family Law Wilmslow office explains what is interim maintenance? And how you apply?
Interim maintenance is a type of financial support paid by one spouse to another whilst divorce proceedings are ongoing. Its aim is to provide immediate support to the financially weaker spouse until a final Order has been made.
How do you apply for interim maintenance?
Anyone who is applying for a divorce, nullity or judicial separation can apply for maintenance whilst the proceedings are ongoing. An application can be submitted as soon as the divorce petition has been issued and any Order may be backdated to the date of the petition.
Whilst interim maintenance comes to an end when the divorce is finalised, any final Order may convert the maintenance into a periodical payments order, which can continue after the marriage has ended.
You can also make an application for maintenance if there is a dispute regarding the validity of a marriage, or there is an argument as to the English court’s jurisdiction (this will, however, depend on the parties’ habitual residence and domicile).
What information do you include in the application?
As part of the application, you must show that there is a genuine need for maintenance and will need to attach supporting evidence. This usually takes the form of a statement explaining why the order is ‘necessary’, a schedule of outgoings (budget), and details of their finances (although this may vary depending on whether any financial proceedings have commenced, and whether parties have already provided disclosure).
The respondent will then need to file a Statement of Means 7 days before the hearing.
It is advisable to have filed your Form E’s first. Form E is a document which sets out a person’s financial position and is a requirement in financial proceedings. This will give the judge an idea about the respondent’s income.
What power does the court have?
The court’s approach is to look at is the reasonableness/fairness of the application. They will look at what you need to live on, with some reference to the standard of living which was enjoyed throughout the marriage, and the ability to maintain yourself.
It is important to flag here that interim maintenance is for a spouse only. It is not for the children of the family. The courts’ powers are limited in respect of maintenance for children, and most disputes are resolved either through private agreement or through the child maintenance service.
What does it cost?
You need to be aware that interim maintenance applications can be costly; to the point that sometimes the cost can outweigh any potential benefit. This is particularly true in small money cases.
It can also risky. The general rule of parties paying their own legal costs are not applicable in maintenance cases, and there is a risk that an unsuccessful party may be ordered to pay for the other sides costs as well as their own.
I would always recommend that, where possible, people try to resolve any maintenance issues between themselves rather than go to court. Counselling and mediation are both excellent tools to help with this.