When a marriage or civil partnership breaks down, the court can consider how the family’s finances and property are divided to consider each parties future income needs and whether those needs can be met from the available income.

The court has a wide power to distribute assets on divorce. These powers include orders requiring one spouse or civil partner to make regular payments to the other spouse or civil partner.

What is spousal maintenance?

An order for spousal maintenance, also known as a periodical payments order, is a continuing obligation for one party to pay the other a weekly or monthly sum of money. 

Whilst the court expects both parties to contribute financially to their own needs as far as they can, decisions made during the marriage or civil partnership may mean that one spouse will not have an income sufficient to meet their needs.

What will the court consider?

When considering an application for spousal maintenance, the court will have regard to the Section 25 factors:

  • the income and earning capacity that each of the parties has, or are likely to have in the foreseeable future, and in the case of earning capacity, any increase in that capacity that it would be reasonable to expect the parties to take steps to acquire
  • the financial needs, obligations, and responsibilities that each of the parties have or are likely to have in the foreseeable future
  • the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage or civil partnership
  • the age of the parties and the length of the marriage or civil partnership
  • any physical or mental disability either of the parties has
  • contributions made, or likely in the foreseeable future to be made, to the welfare of the family, including any non-economic contribution
  • conduct, if that conduct is such that it would, in the court’s opinion, be inequitable to disregard it 
  • the value of any benefit that either party will lose the chance of acquiring

The court must consider whether a clean break can be achieved either straight away or over time. 

Can I Claim Spousal Maintenance on Divorce

How much spousal maintenance will be paid?

Whilst child maintenance is governed by a statutory formula; no set formula applies to the calculation of spousal maintenance. 

Payments are calculated by balancing the income and earning capacity of the parties against their needs.

Income needs are calculated by both parties providing a list of their expenditure, setting out their monthly income requirements. The level of maintenance claimed should be realistic and proportionate. 

What orders can the court make?

The court can order one party to pay maintenance to the other:

  • for the rest of the joint lives of the parties 
  • for a fixed period that cannot be extended in any circumstances 
  • for a fixed period that can be extended 
  • for a nominal sum for a specified period 
  • by capitalising payments with a lump sum payment rather than ongoing maintenance 

Can a spousal maintenance order be varied?

A spousal maintenance order is always capable of variation, and either party can make an application. A significant change in circumstances since the making of the original order may warrant a variation or termination of the maintenance order.

Here to help

If you have any more questions or would like more information regarding claiming spousal maintenance on divorce, you can contact our Family Law Team below.

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