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Spousal maintenance in the UK

Spousal maintenance is a payment made by one spouse to the other following a divorce. It is in addition to child maintenance. 

There is no automatic right to maintenance. The amount of maintenance is decided based on the couple’s financial needs and income. 

Spousal maintenance (interim) can start during the divorce proceedings.  Once a financial settlement is agreed, longer-term spousal maintenance will begin. 

How much can spousal support can I expect to pay/receive?

The level of spousal maintenance will vary from case to case as it is based on:

    • Needs 
    • Income 
    • Ability to pay 

As part of the disclosure process in divorce, you will be both be required to submit detail financial information about your income and outgoings. 

Any shortfall between a person’s income (includes any income stream including state benefits) and outgoings (within reason) may potentially require spousal maintenance to meet those needs. The other person’s ability to pay is also taken into consideration. 

Who decides how much spousal maintenance I will pay/receive?

Your divorce lawyer will advise you of how much spousal maintenance a judge is likely to award you, and this will inform any negotiations you have.

If you are unable to agree on an amount and your case goes to court, the judge will decide how much you should receive.

Ideally, you will be able to reach an agreement without a judge having to decide the outcome. 

You can consider mediation, arbitration or a Private FDR to help you reach a settlement.

How long will I pay /receive spousal maintenance for?

Spousal maintenance is awarded as a: 

Fixed-term (which can be extended in rare circumstances) 
Spouses’ joint lives, meaning until either the payee or payer dies 

At any point during the maintenance term, either party can apply to the court to vary the amount or have it stopped.  

The spousal maintenance can be varied if there is a change in circumstance of either the payee or payer i.e. illness, redundancy, a reduction in income. 

If the payee remarries, spousal maintenance stops automatically. 

Can you stop or change spousal maintenance? 

A maintenance order can be varied or dismissed by the courts on a change in circumstances including loss of a job, change in earnings or changes to the maintenance payee circumstances including new employment or living with a partner.  This is not automatic and an application must be made to the court.

Get in touch

Spousal maintenance and support can be a complicated issue.

The best advice is to speak to a family lawyer at an early stage so that you can control your case in a thorough and proper way before any financial decisions are made.

 

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