Variation of Spousal Maintenance
What is Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance is maintenance that is paid by a husband or a wife to their former spouse following a divorce. It is usually paid on a monthly basis and continues either for a defined period or for the remainder of the parties’ life (known as a “joint lives order”).
The need for Spousal Maintenance arises where one party’s income or assets are insufficient to meet their day-to-day needs and they can’t support themselves financially.
The amount that a spouse receives would depend on:
- How much they need to live on;
- How much income they already have; and,
- How much they could potentially earn in the future.
What is a Nominal Maintenance Order?
A Nominal Maintenance Order is made in favour of one party where they have sufficient income to meet their needs and no spousal maintenance is presently required, but some may be needed in the future.
This type of maintenance order is often granted in favour of a parent who is a primary carer of children. This order would safeguard them against any significant change in circumstance in the future. In this case, they could ask the Courts to vary the nominal order upwards.
Where care of a child is shared, then a Nominal Maintenance Order may be made on a joint basis between each parent.
What are Spousal Maintenance Variations?
There is a duty on both payer and recipient to inform the other of any material change in their financial or other circumstances. Either party can apply to the court to vary the maintenance upwards or downwards.
In the case of a job loss, the payer of the maintenance should advise their former spouse and be able to reach an agreement. In some circumstances it may be necessary to apply to the court for a suspension of the maintenance order, whilst the payer remains out of work.
If the person receiving the spousal maintenance comes into money or starts working, it will depend on the circumstances of the case. It may be that the party receiving maintenance is now earning sufficient and the spousal maintenance can end, or that the maintenance may be reduced. The legal test is whether the receiving party can adjust to life without undue hardship.
Either the recipient or payer can apply to the court for the maintenance to be paid in a lump sum as well.
Spousal Maintenance ends automatically if the recipient remarries or either the payer or recipient dies. Maintenance may end on the parties becoming entitled to draw income from their pensions, too.
If you require advice in relation to a variation of spousal maintenance, either to make an application or because your ex has made an application to the court – please contact us. We provide our clients with full and expert advice regarding the likely outcome of court proceedings. We would encourage you to come and see us for an initial meeting so you fully understand your options.
In certain circumstances you may qualify for Legal Aid – please see our page on Legal Aid.
You are in safe hands with Ashmans Solicitors, and, after being engaged by you, we’ll expertly guide your path through the process.