What is spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is a monthly payment from one party to a marriage or civil partnership to the other for their financial support (as opposed to child maintenance which is paid for the support of children of the marriage / partnership). 

Does the court have to order spousal maintenance?

No. If spousal maintenance is appropriate in your case it can be agreed by negotiation, mediation or collaborative law. If however it cannot be agreed it may be necessary to apply through the courts for a spousal maintenance order. An application for a spousal maintenance order can be brought as an emergency application if one party fails to properly support the other or unreasonably withdraws financial support. 

Is spousal maintenance appropriate in my case?

The most important factors in determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate are:

  • The income and earning capacity of you and your ex-spouse, including any increase it would be reasonable to expect a party to acquire.
  • The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of you both. 
  • The standard of living enjoyed before the breakdown.
  • The age of either party and duration of the relationship. 
  • Any physical or mental disabilities of the parties or children of the family. 

How is the amount calculated?

In broad terms the amount of maintenance is calculated by balancing the income and earning capacity of the parties against their needs, obligations and responsibilities. Unlike the calculation of child maintenance, there is no set formula.

What are the types of spousal maintenance?

The main types of spousal maintenance are:

  • A joint lives maintenance order - This lasts until the death of either one of the parties or the re-marriage / civil partnership of the recipient. This type of order may be appropriate in long marriages where: there is a disparity in income and earning capacity; or no realistic prospect of the recipient returning to work; or where there are young dependent children.
  • A term maintenance order - This type of order lasts for a specific number of years. It may be appropriate: after a short marriage; where the children of the marriage are older; or if there are no children of the marriage.
  • A nominal maintenance order - This type of order is for a nominal amount, for example for £0.05p per year, but with the ability to apply for an upwards variation of the amount paid. It may be appropriate where there is some uncertainty about the recipients future earning capacity which may result in the recipient needing financial support in the future.
  • Capitalised maintenance - This is where a lump sum is paid in lieu of spousal of maintenance.

Need further advice?

If you need more detailed advice about either claiming or paying spousal maintenance call us or apply online for a free case assessment.