In a large number of cases, the court will favour a financial clean break between divorcing parties, meaning neither party is financially dependent upon each other following their divorce.
However in some cases, this is not appropriate and there is a requirement for one party to be financially supported by the other. This is known as a spousal maintenance order/ spousal periodical payments.
A spousal maintenance order may result from an agreement reached directly between the parties or by an order of the court following contested proceedings.
The court will look at a variety of factors to decide whether a spousal maintenance order is appropriate, including those under S25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. This includes the income and earning capacity of each party, both parties’ financial needs, the age of the parties and duration of marriage, and any physical or mental disabilities of either party.
How long does a spousal maintenance order last?
A spousal maintenance order may be for a set period of time or it may end following certain trigger points, for example, the death of either party, remarriage of the recipient or further order from the court.
Can spousal maintenance be increased?
Yes, spousal maintenance can be increased if there is a significant change in either parties’ income or capital, or if either party retire.
Can spousal maintenance be enforced?
Yes, the receiving party can apply to the court for enforcement and the court may decide to make one of the following orders depending on the circumstances of the case:
- An attachment of earnings order
- A warrant of control
- A third party debt order
- A charging order
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