Spousal & Child Maintenance

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance can be very important at the time after the initial breakdown of a marriage. One party has usually borne the responsibility for the majority of the financial income leaving the other party in need of support. The court has the ability to address this to try to manage the parties positions in the short term and the long term.

The court can make interim spousal maintenance orders, sometimes called maintenance pending suit, in order to keep stability pending the final resolution of the finances by the court. Such interim spousal maintenance is required at a level so as to address a spouse’s specific needs and with a specific budget in mind. The idea is to try to ensure that the parties finances remain on a stable footing until a clean break is achieved between the parties.

Whilst the court will try to achieve a clean break between the parties at the final resolution of the finances it may be that the court makes an order for ongoing spousal maintenance in a number of different ways. This can be short term or long term for a fixed period of time or could in fact be a joint lives order which ends only at the death of either party.

If possible the court will try to transition a dependent party to independence with a definite term of spousal maintenance. However, that is not always the case. Every case is different and there are some cases where spousal maintenance might need to continue for a long time into the future and indefinitely. It is important to obtain advice upon this area of law which is not straight forward.

Every party’s position is different and the court must always bear in mind the needs of the parties together with the income and assets that are available to support them.

Child Maintenance

If at all possible, child maintenance should be agreed between separating parties based upon the income of the parent that does not live with the children. Parents can make a private arrangement in respect of this maintenance which does not involve any outside agency.

If child maintenance cannot be agreed then an application should be made to the Child Maintenance Service which can be made on line at https://www.gov.uk/making-child-maintenance-arrangement

The Child Maintenance Website service website has an online Calculator so that you can log in basic information to see what level of child maintenance should be paid. This can be very helpful in enabling parents to then agree child maintenance between themselves.

If an agreement for child maintenance is reached this can be put into a financial consent order to be approved by the court. However, that agreement lasts only for 12 months after which either party can make an application to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) for the child maintenance to be assessed.

The court does have the capacity to make some awards for child maintenance on a limited basis. This could relate to school fees or maintenance for children over the age of 20. This could relate to specific issues such as needs for a child disability. Such applications however are rare and are likely to only ever be short term interim awards. Child maintenance is not an issue that forms part and parcel of the financial proceedings of a divorce as standard.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to speak to one of our friendly team members on 01785 252377 for Stafford appointments, 01782 987551 for Newcastle-under-Lyme, or 01270 446260 for Alsager appointments.