During or after a divorce, you may feel that you are struggling to manage financially or that your standard of living has decreased severely. As such, you could be eligible for spousal maintenance.
Spousal maintenance can be awarded by the Courts for the higher income earning spouse to pay the spouse with the lower income when a couple divorce. It is usually paid weekly or monthly and can be for a set period or for life. It is also known as “spousal periodical payments”. Spousal maintenance is generally paid when the lower earning party cannot support themselves without the payment.
Spousal maintenance is determined with reference to the recipient’s income, needs and earning capacity and take into account the paying party’s ability to pay.
The amount of money you could receive depends on a number of factors, such as:
- How much money you need to live on;
- The amount of income you already have;
- The level of income you could earn in the future;
- How many children you have;
- The assets that belong to the spouse making the payments;
- The lifestyle both parties had during the marriage.
To claim spousal maintenance, you need to have been married; cohabitation is not sufficient. The grounds for your divorce will not be taken into account when you claim your spousal maintenance and duration of the payments depends largely on how long you have been married for.
The Court can make the order for spousal maintenance on or after divorce. A claim can be made for spousal maintenance after your divorce provided you do not have a clean break consent order.
If circumstances change, spousal maintenance can be varied at any point.
It may be worth considering if a clean break is achievable before deciding on periodical payments. In this situation, a lump sum is usually paid, enabling both parties to be independent of one another.
Horwood & James LLP offers advice on all areas of Family Law. For more information or to make an appointment contact 01296 487361 or firstname.lastname@example.org.