This article will discuss spousal maintenance payments in the UK. This is certainly one that generates the most debate in terms of marital finances during a divorce and is a very popular UK family law topic.
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There’s a lot of uncertainty regarding when it should be taken, how much should be paid for how long, and so on. With that in mind, our family lawyers London have put together this guide.
In this blog post, we will discuss some common misperceptions, clarify what spousal maintenance is, and reiterate that as a complex issue of family law, you should always get independent legal advice on it.
Spousal Maintenance – 8 Facts To Consider
- Spousal support and child maintenance are not the same.
- If you don’t have an income after your divorce, you may be eligible for a maintenance claim so you can handle your money. This is dependent on need and can be used as an emergency measure in certain circumstances.
- Because the actions that led to the divorce don’t impact your finances, grounds for divorce won’t prevent you from seeking spousal maintenance. That can happen, but it’s uncommon.
- If a court thinks that one spouse will provide for the other through maintenance, the maintenance order will be for a period of time. This will also depend on the circumstances of the individuals involved.
- The amount will be decided by the other party’s ability to make the payments. The court will consider both spouses’ earnings and standard of living when determining the amount of spousal maintenance. Income from both spouses is taken into account since it’s virtually impossible to satisfy two separate families’ demands with one family’s assets. Moreover, if the incomes of both spouses are significantly different, lifestyle will be factored into the asset division to ensure a fair distribution.
- Spousal maintenance payments can be adjusted at any time if circumstances change. It’s critical to figure out how to satisfy your needs while also obtaining a fair settlement once you’ve split up.
- If you and your former partner can’t come to an agreement, most situations will need to go through mediation. If you do not agree with each other and want to pursue the legal route, it is essential that you consider family mediation.
- If you’re paying spousal maintenance, don’t forget that you can ask to change it. If you do, the court will think about whether or not a clean break is feasible – meaning a one-off payment. In order to do this, they’ll look at your assets and income before making any decisions.
What Is Spousal Maintenance?
Spousal maintenance is a payment that a spouse, i.e., a wife or husband, must pay their former spouse as part of a divorce. It is generally paid every month and may last for either a set period of time or, in increasingly uncommon situations until the ex-spouse’s death. A “joint lives order” is the latter option.
We are No Longer Together – Why Should I Pay Spousal Maintenance?
You are making a financial and emotional commitment when you marry. The law on divorce is structured around your future requirements. It is generally accepted that in the event that one spouse has a significantly greater salary than the other, there may be a need for long-term financial assistance in order to avoid undue hardship or harm to any children’s well-being.
How Long Does Spousal Maintenance Payments Last?
Spousal maintenance payments will continue as long as both spouses agree that it is necessary or until a court determines otherwise.
If the recipient of spousal maintenance gets remarried or enters into a civil partnership, it may be ended. It will also stop if one party dies. However, generally, Spousal maintenance will usually continue until the spouse can support themselves or their financial requirements are reduced, like school or university fees for children after divorce.
Spousal Maintenance Payments – Are They Guaranteed?
No, they are not guaranteed or fixed in any way. The spousal maintenance may be varied or revoked by the court as a result of a change in circumstances. For example, if you cohabit with a new partner, receive an instant lump sum that allows you to sustain yourself, or if the person paying your support stops working. However, there may be many instances when the payment is changed or compelled by the court. For more info, ask our family solicitors UK.
How Is the Amount of Spousal Maintenance UK Decided?
When it comes to determining spousal maintenance, there is no specific formula to follow, unlike child support. The payment amount is usually determined by the couple or the court based on the circumstances. After assessing all of the elements, the court will set both how much money should be spent and how long you will have to pay it back. Both your reasonable future budgets are taken into account when calculating how much spousal maintenance uk to give you.
How Are Spousal Maintenence Budgets Calculated?
The amount one will have to pay in terms of maintenance is determined by looking at both spouses’ daily financial obligations and any child support obligations. This is to see who will be paying who spousal maintenance.
After a divorce, there may be some budgeting and adjusting that must be considered in order to assess a decrease in standard of living and this may be required from both sides. However, if one side has a significant shortfall in its reasonable spending plan, but the other side has more money than usual – it’s likely spousal maintenance would come into play.
What Expenses Go Into Spousal Maintenence Budgets?
A monthly budget consists of the following items: housing and utility bills, council tax, school expenses, clothing, vacations, presents, debts repayments, subscriptions, and more. The yearly charges (for example, a vacation) are usually divided by 12 and allotted over the course of a month. Every family’s budget is different, and what may be considered average varies greatly depending on the needs of each member. This is where past living conditions come into play. It might be reasonable to continue paying for private education and healthcare if you were paying for them before your divorce, especially if the household finances allow it.
Can The Spousal Maintenence Payments Be Changed One Day?
Yes, either spouse may apply to the court and change the spousal maintenance amount or duration if their financial situation has changed. For example, the paying party’s income may have dropped, and the recipient’s financial requirements might have altered or increased so that they no longer require as much support as before.
At any time, either party can petition the court to have maintenance capitalized. This means that instead of paying on a monthly basis, the payer makes a big amount as payment in one go. This will generally be done if the payer receives a large amount of money, such as an inheritance, windfall, or when they sell a business.
Both sides are duty-bound to inform the other person of any substantial change in financial circumstances, and they are obliged to do as quickly as possible.
Can I Stop Paying Spousal Maintenence One Day?
If the recipient remarries or passes away, spousal maintenance will be terminated automatically. The payer is not permitted to cancel the payments until the agreed length of time has passed.
If your circumstances have changed, you might try to negotiate with the other party rather than demanding that they pay maintenance. You can also request a court to reduce or terminate spousal support if your financial situation has worsened or the recipient’s financial condition has improved. Remember that there is no assurance, and the court will have to agree with you. The court will examine whether the receiver can make do without maintenance and whether doing so would cause undue hardship.
If I Lose My Job, Can I Stop Paying Spousal Maintenence?
If your career ends and you are unable to pay spousal maintenance, you should contact the recipient and try to reach an agreement. In some cases, it would be in your interest to go to the court requesting that your spousal maintenance be paused while you look for alternative employment. If one spouse obtains new employment with a lower or greater salary, either person can petition the court for a change in the existing order.
If The Recipient Spouse Is Working, Can I Stop Paying?
Whether you should pay the spousal maintenance if the recipient has a job is determined by the circumstances. If the recipient has established employment that meets their demands, spousal support might be discontinued. Another option is to apply to a court for a reduction or termination of spousal support, which will assess whether allowing the receiving party to adjust would cause them hardship.
Can I Stop Paying Spousal Maintenence If The Recipient Spouse Is Living With A New Partner?
If the recipient of spousal maintenance is cohabiting with a new partner, the spousal maintenance will not terminate. Cohabitation is more debatable than marriage, and if the relationship ends, those who cohabit can’t assert financial claims against one another. Despite the fact that cohabitation will not automatically terminate the spousal maintenance, it may be advisable to reduce it and seek mediation before going to court to end it; nevertheless, you should consult a family solicitor London before taking any such actions.
Under What Circumstances Is Spousal Maintenance Ordered By The Court?
Spousal maintenance is usually required when one of the spouses does not have enough assets or any feasible income to meet his or her basic needs. If your ex-spouse makes a lower wage than you, for example, or isn’t able to support themselves right away because they didn’t work for most of the entire marriage.
With a few exceptions, the term “needs” is interpreted very broadly and is based on a number of things that include the assets available for distribution and the marital standard of living.
Who Is Eligible For Spousal Maintenance?
When you and your partner are going through a divorce, each partner is entitled to spousal maintenance. If this is the case, then a number of circumstances must be taken into account, including the length of the marriage and whether the spouses are employed.
We Were Not Married, But We Had Cohabitation For Many Years. So Do I Still Have To Pay Spousal Maintenance?
No, you must have been married to file for spousal maintenance. You can seek child support if you are not married and have children, and you may also negotiate any future payments between you as a separating couple; however, if you can’t do so, you can’t submit a claim for spousal maintenance through the courts. There are other arguments you can make in certain cases, such as under Section 1 of the Children’s Act. If you wish to pursue this as an option, you should seek the advice of family lawyers London.
Spousal Maintenence – How To Start The Process?
You can agree to spousal maintenance or request that the court hears your case if your spouse is unwilling to accept it. If you pursue this option and the judge rules against you, you may appeal the decision. They will decide whether or not you are entitled to receive spousal maintenance support. If they decide that you are entitled to spousal maintenance, they will issue an order compelling your ex-spouse to comply. Unless one of the following 15 exceptions applies, family mediation must be taken into account before applying to court.
Is It Possible To Get A Clean Break When Spousal Maintenance Has Been Paid?
Kind of, but only if you pay in one go; otherwise no, you won’t get a clean break if you obtain a spousal maintenance order. This is because the amount of maintenance that you need to pay might be modified or capitalized into a lump sum at any moment after the divorce. With that in mind, you should always consider whether the amount of spousal maintenance may be paid out in one go to allow for a clean break between you and your spouse.
May I Still Make A Claim For Spousal Maintenance If We Have Already Divorced?
You are entitled to submit a claim anytime after your divorce unless you already have a clean break consent order.
Will Spouse Maintenence Support Affect My Income Or Taxes?
If you’re receiving spousal maintenance, you do not have to pay tax on it since the person providing it will already have paid taxes on the money they received. It may affect your entitlement to universal credit and other benefits, depending on how much spousal maintenance you receive and whether or not you have children.
Can My Ex Put Their Income Undercover To Avoid Paying Spouse Maintenence?
Yes, they can technically do this. However, if that’s the case, your claim is more than likely going to court. To prove their incomes, they must complete a full financial disclosure on Form E, which they declare to be true and accurate. They are committing fraud if they aren’t. When you think about how much money should be awarded for legal fees etc., a court is unlikely to take such conduct favorably.
If I Want To Move In With My New Partner After A Divorce – What Happens Then?
You may live with your new partner, of course. However, the party paying spousal maintenance might claim that they should contribute to your new household budget, leading to a possible reduction or removal of your needs for upkeep. This must be thoroughly analyzed because cohabiting with a new partner does not offer you the same legal protections as being married to them.
Can I Stop Paying Spousal Maintenence If My Ex Has Children With Their New Spouse?
No, you will still have to pay. However, you might request that the amount paid over is decreased. If you can’t agree, it’ll be up to the court to decide, though the court must prioritize any children in its decision regardless of which relationship they’re from.
Spousal maintenance payments is an area of UK Family Law in which many clients struggle to reach a settlement. It should be discussed as part of your negotiations and then disregarded if necessary. There’s no sense in reaching a division of your assets agreement if one of you loses your house because you can’t afford to live now that the divorce is final.
It’s critical to have all of the information so you can be sure that everything you agree on is equitable and long-term. If you’re having trouble reaching an agreement between yourselves, family mediation or an independent barristers’ review are alternatives worth considering.
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Dr Bernard Andonian – the Co-Founder of Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, is an experienced Immigration Solicitor, former Judge, and recipient of a PhD in Law from the University of West London. He has over four decades of experience practising UK Immigration, Human Rights and Civil Litigation Law. He has served on the Law Society Immigration Law Panel, achieved numerous groundbreaking decisions in higher courts and is featured in the Legal 500’s Hall of Fame.