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31st July, 2019

How Spousal Maintenance Can Help You

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When couples separate, it can often feel that there is a mountain of issues to overcome – Don’t leave yourself in financial hardship during your divorce.

Making arrangements for the children and giving consideration to the division of the financial assets, all whilst managing the emotional strain of a relationship breakdown, can often feel overwhelming.

When considering the end of a relationship it is important to take legal advice at an early stage. Whilst visiting a solicitor can feel daunting, choosing the right solicitor who will identify the issues and recognise the sensitivity required, will ease the process and should ensure that some of the pressure that is often felt during a break up is alleviated.

Often, one of the most pressing worries is how all of the financial needs can be met in the immediate aftermath of the separation.  Ultimately, the division of the marital assets is usually agreed or decided by the Court during the course of the divorce but this process can take many months.

Spousal maintenance is financial support paid from one spouse to another and by nature only applies to married couples. This kind of financial support would not apply therefore to unmarried couples unless there are children of the relationship.  In many cases, one spouse may have given up work to look after the children or have limited their career to reduced hours to meet the needs of the family, while the other is the main ‘breadwinner’.

In cases where one spouse has a lower income than the other, the Court can order that spousal maintenance is paid by the higher earner to the lower. The Court will consider the financial needs and income of both parties in deciding whether spousal maintenance should be paid and by how much.  Sometimes, the spousal maintenance element due to be paid can be ‘offset’, for example, the lower earner may receive a higher proportion of the capital assets instead of an ongoing maintenance claim.

Spousal maintenance is paid in addition to and as a completely separate payment to child maintenance.

What many people are not aware of is that spousal maintenance can be paid during the process of the divorce and before any final agreement or order is made in respect of the overall finances. This is known as ‘interim spousal maintenance’.

Interim maintenance payments can be arranged by agreement or by making an application to the Court. Applications to the Court for spousal maintenance are arranged as a priority as often the urgent financial needs of the spouse requires an immediate order.

The worry about being able to pay their mortgage, childcare costs and other outgoings in the immediate aftermath of separation can often be the biggest cause of emotional stress and for some people may cause them to avoid a separation altogether.

Where one spouse is the higher earner or controls the ‘marital purse’ the other can feel trapped in the marriage, believing that the only way out being a financial hardship for themselves and the children. This is not the case and it is important to take legal advice if you are thinking of, or have recently separated to ensure that you have the immediate financial protection you need.

If you would like to discuss how spousal maintenance can help you, contact Victoria Syvret.

Victoria Syvret

Family Law

Senior Associate
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 01244 405 529

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