I am regularly asked by clients, and individuals who I am offering initial advice to, how the complex issue of maintenance works. There is barely a day that passes where a high-profile case (often those involving celebrities or multi-millionaires!) doesn’t make the pages of our daily newspapers. The truth of the matter is that spousal maintenance, as with any financial issue arising from divorce, is complex and the ‘rules’ vary enormously from case to case.

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So, what is it?

Spousal maintenance is income payable by one spouse or former spouse to the other, in their own right and in addition to any child maintenance. It is often one of the first topics people want advice on and unsurprisingly it is very often a problematic issue in divorce and dissolution cases. That said, it is often underplayed and its significance and benefit can be minimised by the potentially paying party.

Why do I have to pay it?

Many clients find it a difficult concept to grasp that the law can order them to financially maintain their former spouse even after divorce or dissolution. In short, there is a common law duty imposed upon spouses to support each other whilst the marriage/civil partnership exists but what many people aren’t aware of is that the duty continues after separation as a result of statute.

There is no automatic entitlement to spousal maintenance on divorce or dissolution. However, legislation obliges the court to consider whether it is possible to achieve a clean break between the parties, or whether the needs of one party require maintenance to be paid by way of a ‘top up’ income from other sources to meet his or her ‘needs’. A clean break ends financial claims against one another on divorce or dissolution (save for child support).

There are many complexities involved in spousal maintenance but in essence its purpose is to meet the ongoing reasonable financial needs of the financially weaker party. Often the reality is that the marriage or civil partnership has changed the course of a person’s life. Some people may have given up a successful career to focus on bringing up the children, running the household or supporting their ambitious husband or wife. When the marriage or civil partnership then ends it is obvious that moving on, having given up their chances of a high income, is going to be extremely difficult without some sort of support or compensation.

The questions the court has to consider is how much and for how long?

How much?

The level of maintenance paid will mainly depend on the couple’s financial needs. The current trend does seem to be that a person’s needs will be generously interpreted. What should be made clear is that there is no automatic right to an equal share of income unless a person’s “needs” requires it.

As part of the disclosure process, each person must compile a schedule of their anticipated future outgoings. This will be scrutinised and it will necessitate a balancing exercise in achieving fairness. The concept of ‘need’ is not fixed in law and there is room for the exercise of discretion in the assessment of needs. It is in the assessment of need that opinions differ. So if you are separating, keep a careful note of your expenditure so you can justify it going forward.

How long will I have to pay spousal maintenance for?

Spousal maintenance can be paid for a fixed term (which might need to be extended) e.g. until the youngest child reaches 18 or for life e.g. until one or the other dies. It can even extend beyond the death of the payer if that maintenance has been secured. You can also have a nominal order, which is where nothing substantive is paid, but there is no clean break, leaving the door open for claims to be made later on. It is like a pilot light which gently burns in the background. A clean break order is where no spousal maintenance is payable.

All spousal maintenance orders automatically end on the remarriage of the recipient. Significantly they do not end automatically by law on cohabitation. Why? Cohabitation does not create a legal commitment.

Our current legislation requires that maintenance ends as soon as it is just and reasonable, and a term order i.e. one of fixed duration should be considered by the court, unless the receiving party would be unable to adjust without undue hardship to the ending of the payments.

The objective of maintenance orders is to enable a transition to independence, to the extent that it is reasonable bearing in mind the length of the marriage, standard of living, the need to house the parties, and the continued shared responsibilities relating to children.

What the above proves is that there is no hard and fast answer. The and the general lack of clarity around spousal maintenance is being addressed by the Matrimonial Needs Working Group which was established following a recommendation by the Law Commission that the law relating to financial needs on divorce be clarified.

In a recent case a prominent family judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, known for not mincing his words, has attempted to provide some guidelines on the subject of maintenance. His guidelines are not binding but he provides a useful summary.

  • A spousal maintenance award is properly made where the evidence shows that choices made during the marriage have generated hard future needs on the part of the claimant. Here the duration of the marriage and the presence of children are pivotal factors.
  • An award should only be made by reference to needs, save in a most exceptional case where it can be said that the sharing or compensation principle applies.
  • Where the needs in question are not causally connected to the marriage the award should generally be aimed at alleviating significant hardship.
  • In every case the court must consider a termination of spousal maintenance with a transition to independence as soon as it is just and reasonable. A term should be considered unless the payee would be unable to adjust without undue hardship to the ending of payments. A degree of (not undue) hardship in making the transition to independence is acceptable.
  • If the choice between an extendable term and a joint lives order is finely balanced the statutory steer should militate in favour of the former.
  • The marital standard of living is relevant to the quantum of spousal maintenance but is not decisive. That standard should be carefully weighed against the desired objective of eventual independence.
  • The essential task of the judge is not merely to examine the individual items in the claimant’s income budget but also to stand back and to look at the global total and to ask if it represents a fair proportion of the respondent’s available income that should go to the support of the claimant.
  • Where the respondent’s income comprises a base salary and a discretionary bonus the claimant’s award may be equivalently partitioned, with needs of strict necessity being met from the base salary and additional, discretionary, items being met from the bonus on a capped percentage basis.
  • If the choice between an extendable and a non-extendable term is finely balanced the decision should normally be in favour of the economically weaker party.

If you’ve read this post this far, you might be interested to read some of his other comments in relation to this particular case. At the beginning of his judgment he described the wife’s claim for income as ‘speculative, experimental and unfeasible’, a ‘product of the great bitterness that the wife feels towards the husband’ and said that her statement ‘is a most unhappy document and seems to have been written with a pen dipped in vitriol’. As I said, he doesn’t mince his words. This is what emotion can do which is why my colleagues and I at Family Law Partners we recommend our clients see a specialist counsellor.

Until the report is published by The Matrimonial Needs Working Group family lawyers will continue to navigate their way through the vague and hazy legal principles relating to spousal maintenance and what is essentially a battle of the budgets.

For more information about Spousal Maintenance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Take a look at our recent blog on spousal maintenance – in what circumstances will spousal maintenance be changed?

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300 responses to “Spousal maintenance – what is it? why do I have to pay it? how much and for how long?

  1. Husband has abandoned wife and 2 children under 4yrs. Wife reduced working hours to manage children now can’t financially manage but advice given by solicitor is that she is not entitled to maintenance.has our solicitor missed a trick in this constantly moving legislation?

    1. Dear Mike, thank you for your question. We are unable to provide legal advice through this forum. As an observation, however, I can confirm that each case will turn on its own specific factors and circumstances but that it would be unusual for a court to say that the parent who has primary responsibility for a young child should not at least have a nominal periodical payments order in place. I have touched upon nominal orders in my blog post. I would suggest that you return to your solicitor to clarify their advice.

  2. How about husbands whose wives have affairs, kick their husband and children out of the house so they can move their lover in…. only to be awarded thousands of pounds a month for the next 20 years (while the children live with their father). The mother is obliged to pay child maintenance but fails to do so as she doesn’t see why she should. The law seems to be automatically in favour of the woman while the man gets sold into slavery even though he is the innocent party.

    1. Thank you for your comment. As you will have read every case is unique and has its own circumstances but just to pick up on a couple of your points (a) cohabitation with a new partner does not terminate a spousal maintenance claim unless that has been expressly provided in a court order (b) only conduct/behaviour that is so serious that it would be unfair for the court to disregard it would be considered relevant in financial settlements (c) any spousal maintenance order is variable if there is a significant change in circumstances so you may wish to review the level of maintenance payable with your ex partner, perhaps in mediation – look at our video explaining the benefits of mediation, (d) the Child Maintenance Service can assist with any issues in respect of non payment of child maintenance.

  3. An extremely useful article, thank you. I guess lawyers like the law’s ambiguity here, it offers plenty of room for “let’s have a go”. The case then becomes something of a war of attrition in that whoever backs down first – or runs out of money – wins. But let’s not be cynical… My question is around the complexities of sorting out the financial matters at the point of divorce (I am currently at decree-nisi application stage, my ex and I have two children under five and I am the petitioner where she has completed acknowledgement of service to say she will not contest the divorce) VS doing it “later”?

    1. Dear Alex. You may be surprised to learn that the majority of lawyers really dislike the ambiguity – life would be easier with more black and white answers! We would really welcome a clearer set of legal principles on this subject so that we can offer some clarity to our clients. Regarding your second point, the timing of dealing with the finances in divorce is, as you will not be surprised to read, dependent on a number of factors. However in the main it is usually sensible to deal with financial issues sooner rather than later. I would recommend considering Mediation as it is often a great place to open up your discussions as money is often a difficult issue to raise with a former partner particularly when emotions may be running high.

  4. Hi, This is Lion

    I have a problem with my wife, she is not working, and never worked anywhere in her life, we do not have children either and we are filing for divorce after some arguments in the household…

    Right now she is intending to claim spousal maintenance against me since she wasn’t working and I supported her from day1 of our marriage?

    Does she have those rights to be awarded support?

    1. Thank you for your comment. As you will have read the issue of spousal maintenance is very specific to each individual set of circumstances. In short, your wife is able to make an application for spousal maintenance from you and if the court considers she ‘needs’ it, she is likely to be successful. What follows on from that is how much and for how long? As you will have seen from my blog, maintenance should end as soon as it is just and reasonable. On the face of it I suspect the issue in your case will be when and if your wife is able to make a transition to independence. She will be expected to maximise her own earning capacity whilst taking into account the fact that she has never worked which may itself hinder her ability to provide for herself with sufficient income to meet her needs, certainly in the short term anyway. Other factors such as the fact that you do not have children, your respective ages, the length of the marriage and your standard of living will also be very relevant. I would advise you to obtain some advice as soon as possible.

  5. My daughter was with her partner for 13 years and have 3 children but were not married nor had a civil partnership. he earns £80,000+ p.a. and my daughter survives on benefits. Is she entitled to spousal maintenance?

    1. Dear Simon, Thank you for question. Spousal maintenance is only relevant where parties are or have been married. Unmarried couples who are separating do not have the same legal rights as married couples who are divorcing. Nevertheless, your daughter will be entitled to child support regardless of whether her and her ex were married or not. There is a useful calculator on our site to help assess the father’s liability. There is provision under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 for the court to order financial provision for a child. This can be a useful tool for cohabiting couples, especially if the other parent has assets or money. However, this is a complex area of the law and your daughter should seek expert advice.

  6. My partner and his wife seperated 18 months ago, after a marriage of 5 years (they lived together for 6 years before that point). There are no children involved. She refuses to sell the matrimonial house and my partner has paid the full mortgage and bills until a few months ago, then paying half as she had lost her job (salary 50k). My partners salary is 40k. She regained employment and he paid half the mortgage and she paid the other half. He can not go on doing this as we are now living together and are having a baby with another child to support, who is mine. We have just been informed that she last been sacked from her latest job and wants is to pay the full mortgage and bills again. My maternity leave is due to start in a few weeks so we will not be able to afford this as all his income will be needed to pay our housing and living costs but they are still filing for a maintenance order? Is it likely this will be awarded as if so we will end up homeless as we not be able to afford out rent and bills and she will be living in a 5 bedroom house?

    1. Dear Tracy. We are unable to advise on specific cases through this forum. I would recommend that your partner seek expert advice as soon as possible. I can however highlight a few factors that will be relevant to your partner’s case from the information you have provided. (a) his ex wife will be expected to maximise her earning capacity (b) her needs will be carefully analysed and my initial observation would be that living in a 5 bedroom property on her own is likely to be considered beyond her needs (c) your partner’s own circumstances are relevant (d) any maintenance order should end as soon as it is just and reasonable – I would anticipate that any maintenance that your partner is ordered to pay would be for a fixed period only e.g. until the house is sold or his wife is earning. If court proceedings are not yet underway I would recommend your partner and his wife consider mediation or collaborative law to deal with the issues. Your partner needs to get advice as soon as possible.

  7. Do couples have to be married a certain length of time to be able to find for spousal maintainence? Thank you

    1. Dear Emma. Thank you for commenting. There is no minimum length of marriage requirement before a spousal maintenance claim can be made.

  8. Hi Lisa. What a great post! Thank you.

    I agree that the lack of clarity around divorce is nonsense. We all hear of divorcing parties, where one is ‘hard done by’.

    My wife and I are divorcing after 18 years and have a 15 and 17 year old, one doing A levels. I earn significantly more than my wife. Based on our budgets (including me paying the required child maintenance), she will have a monthly surplus of £400 for the first 3 years and then break even after this.
    I have suggested that she take 70% of available cash to buy a £450,000 mortgage-free 3 bed property. I would then take the lion’s share of the pension pot so that we have an equal split of total assets, although I will not be able to cash in the pension until I reach 55 next year

    The key point is that I need to take on all the risk through a significant mortgage, so that I can fund a similar 3 bedroom property in a similar area, so that our boys can easily commute between our homes, school and friends. I would break even on the first year, then move into a c £400 surplus each month in years 2-4, then after the boys leave university (if they go) in 6 years’ time, I would have a surplus of c £1000 per month after paying the mortgage – which I will need to do until I am 67 to pay off the debt.

    My wife’s career has not suffered as result of our marriage. In act she could go back to the PA role that she did before we were married and would earn more than she is now.

    My wife is being advised to go for £900 spousal maintenance.
    Although we would have an equitable split at divorce, my wife feels it unfair that after I have paid off the mortgage in 13 years, then I will have that capital sum more than her.
    She also does not like the house for £450,000: I have tried to explain that she (we) need to adjust our lifestyle and also a house of greater value would mean me taking on an unsustainable debt.

    Based on your earlier comments, am I right to interpret that she would not have a strong claim to spousal maintenance (ie she does not ‘need’ it, even though I will be earning more (but using that surplus to pay down the debt that we need to take on, for her to be able to take 70% of the available cash).

    I know that you can not give specific advice here – but do you have any comments and/or precedents that I should consult.

    1. Dear Colin

      As you say we cannot give specific advice here and given the detail of your circumstances it would be dangerous for us to do so. In my opinion you need to seek bespoke advice in respect of your specific case.

    2. Colin – please if you can keep me posted on how you go here. I’m in almost a 100% identical situation and starting down this road myself. Good luck

  9. This is an eleven year marriage with two children. Does a differential in salary make any difference in the “battle of the budgets”? If the CSA calculated payments are enough to keep the children, and for the other party to maintain a reasonable lifestyle, and even save a little, does it matter what each earns. On a similar note, if one party decided to return to work in a lower paid part time job, despite the protestations of the other party, does it matter, or could they be asked to work full time? In a controlling and manipulative relationship, which are quoted and accepted as the reasons for divorce, are the actions of the controlling party in the marriage considered?

    1. Dear Marc. Thank you for your comment. As you will see we are unable to give specific advice through this forum. What I can reiterate is that “need” is often interpreted differently by the respective parties – I am sure that will come as no surprise to you. The current trend is that a person’s needs will be generously interpreted (provided there is sufficient income and is consistent with the standard of living during the marriage) but it will be a balancing exercise to achieve fairness. Both parties will be expected to maximise their earning capacities, subject of course to any constraints such as health. The basis of the divorce nor the conduct of the parties are likely to have any impact on the award.

  10. My mum has been receiving a small monthly maintenance from her ex since hey got divorced 5 years ago. She barely survives on it as it is. She was informed to that he passed away in the beginning of the month so she won’t be getting maintenance anymore. He supported her while they were married. She wasn’t allowed to work. She has no other income. Is there anything she can do?

    1. Thank you for your enquiry on behalf of your mother. I must presume that the small monthly maintenance you refer to is spousal maintenance ordered by the court. But it may be the case that the divorce took place without any financial orders being made by a court. It is possible to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 if you are an ex-spouse of the deceased and you have not subsequently re-married. A claim may also be brought by the children of the deceased although it should be noted that it is much more difficult to bring a successful claim if you are a financially independent and able-bodied adult child. You do not say whether there is a Will or if your mother’s deceased ex-husband died intestate (that is, without a valid Will).

      These cases are complicated and turn upon a precise understanding of the facts so it is hard to make any observations in the absence of more information. However, I have posted on the subject of the Inheritance Act on my Divorce Finance Toolkit website and I think the contents of my response there may be of assistance.

      At the very least, your mother should contact whoever she believes may be the executor of her late ex-husband to enquire whether he made a Will or not and to notify that person in writing that she was a dependent of the deceased whose interests should be taken into account. My blog post on the Divorce Finance Toolkit suggests some further steps your mother may wish to take. It is important to note that any claimant under the Inheritance Act has six months from the date of a grant of representation to make a claim against an estate.

      I hope this helps.

      Alan Larkin

  11. Unfortunately i married a German and we are getting divorced in the UK, she is trying to apply German law in a UK court referring to the Hague convention. The dispute is i am paying her more than than the current CSA stated amount however she is fixated that as she resides in Germany i must pay her an amount in accordance with the dusseldorfer table which is 50% of my income. She lives in the family home, has all the family assets and car etc but refuses to work and is unwilling to have an amicable split. I am paying for my 2 children 17 & 19 in continued education and my ex wife has stated i must pay for them till 2020.

    Any advice on what options i have and how true her statement is? There is no chance of mediation or resolve.

    1. On the face of it, if the court in England and Wales is dealing with the case then the law in this jurisdiction will apply. The court will assess need and wherewithal to pay. The court will consider both child and spousal maintenance. However, you should seek comprehensive legal advice on your situation as a whole.

  12. I have been told that my ex husband should have been paying me spousal maintenance,is this true?We are not together now but i have been told that he should still have been paying??

    1. Thank you for your comment. Payment of spousal maintenance can either be agreed by consent or else determined by the court following a full assessment of all the circumstances of your case. If a final financial order was not made at the time of your separation it may still be possible to make a financial claim against your ex husband to include payment of spousal maintenance (likely by way of a capitalised lump sum). However this is only possible if you have not since remarried and it will be harder to succeed as these cases are highly unusual. You may be interested to read the Supreme Court judgement of Vince v Wyatt [2015] UKSC 14 which sets out the policy behind this area of law in some detail. You shall need to take independent legal advice on your specific circumstances.

  13. I am recently divorced, u have two children to my ex husband one of which is disabled. My ex husband somehow managed to only pay CSA intermittently. I worked within the NHS but I had to give up my career to look after our son as he needs a lot of care. On separating I let my ex husband take the business & family cars to keep the peace, I have given in to every wim as he had a tendency to violence. Now after 6 years and trying to get a divorce he divorced me as he wanted to re-marry. Based on the facts that I now reluctantly rely on benefits as my son needs me almost 24/7 would I be eligible for spousal maintainance? The business is disco/karaoke compare and is no longer registered or paying tax but he still runs it? How much would it cost me to apply for spousal maintainance?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated

    1. Dear Helen
      Thank you for your query. As you will have read we are not able to give specific advice to individual circumstances within this forum. However from the information you have provided I would certainly recommend that you obtain some legal advice regarding a possible spousal maintenance claim. Your needs (and those of your son) will need to be considered as will your former husband’s ability to pay. It is not clear whether you dealt with any financial claims on divorce and so legal advice would definitely be prudent. Unfortunately I cannot provide information with regard to costs – you will need to speak to a lawyer about this as rates vary from firm to firm.

    2. Thank you very much for your reply, I think I will look into this further. As we did not have a financial separation. I appreciate your time

  14. I am a British National My husband Indian. Will I need to divorce first in order to file for a Spousal maintenance.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Before you are able to obtain a financial order for maintenance you or your husband would first need to have commenced divorce proceedings in England. If there is a risk that your husband may issue divorce proceedings in India, depending on your circumstances and where your husband is living (habitually resident) then you may wish to petition for divorce in England without delay. Whilst there is a mechanism in England for spouses who have been divorced overseas and who have a connection to England to access financial remedies available in this jurisdiction, it is much more limited and there are far more hurdles to overcome before you are able to pursue a claim. We hope our observations, which do not constitute legal advice, are helpful.

  15. Hi,

    I have been separated from my wife for over 10 years now. I have paid half the mortgage and an agreed maintenance amount for my son throughout this time. I have helped out with the house and paid additional sums when she needed it. I have had my son most weekends and never claimed money back if he was with me. We agreed that her and my son would live in the house and when he turned 18 we would split it 50/50. This date is Aug 16 and my wife has announced that she now wants more than 50/50, my pension and a maintenance payment for herself. She has only ever worked part time since we split as she got more from benefits than if she worked full time. This of course will end in August and she now realises she will be short of money. She is capable of working full time and our son can live with me if she cannot afford it.

    She has never contributed to my pension and has her own so why would she get any ?
    Is she entitled to more than 50% of the house even though i have been paying half.

    Many thanks

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am sure there is a history that will have a relevance and it would be impossible to help without understanding it. My suggestion is you should seek independent advice as soon as possible to review your options. Choosing a family lawyer who is a member of Resolution would be a great starting point. Of course we are happy to assist if you would like to contact us direct.

  16. Hi there my husband walked out on myself and our 8 year old son although I and my son live in the martial home it is all in his name and is paying the mortgage and bills at the moment I was and still am a stay at home mum now on benefits I get no maintenance either for my son or myself am I entitled to either ? Many thanks

    1. Dear Lorraine. Thank you for reading the blog and responding. Separation brings with it many challenges and anxieties and worries about money and financial support are commonplace. It’s clear to me you should seek urgent legal guidance on how you can be supported through the process and to discuss your needs and options. Please look to instruct a member of Resolution and check out if they work with Family Consultants in helping to support clients through what can be a really worrying time. Start creating a budget of what you are spending and what you need. That will help understand what shortfall needs to be met. You should consider applying to the CMS but my view is get advice as a starting point. I hope this helps.

  17. Hi

    I’m a little confused about the law and spousal maintenance. My partner has been split from his ex wife for 6 years and they still don’t have this sorted as his wife is asking for a ridiculous amount. They had no joint finances or house and their joint debt of £25k was only in his name.

    How come the court will take into account my financials to look at how much of our household I can support to allow him to pay more in spousal maintenance. As it presumes he can have some of my income even though I have my own child to support and don’t see a penny of my partners money. And I was never married to my sons dad, so it’s not deemed by the law that I need any more support than child maintenance to look after my child.

    But it can’t be added into the agreement that spousal maintenance should be stopped if she co habits as its not guaranteed she will have her partners income?

    This is total contradiction. How come the law thinks my partner should have a share of my income to ensure he can afford spousal maintenance..But any new partner of hers that she cohabits with shouldn’t?

    1. Dear Victoria. Thank you for your comment. I can see why it appears contradictory to you given your partner’s situation. This is why we advise seeking bespoke advice in respect of individual specific circumstances. As you will have read the issue of spousal maintenance is complex. What I can say is that the court does not presume that your partner can have a share of your income or that you will support him. What it does do is assume that if he is sharing a home with you that you are both making a reasonable contribution towards the running of that home which in turn means that your partner’s income needs are less than if he were living on his own. Some judges do allow spousal maintenance to be stopped if the other party cohabits, particularly in circumstances where this has been agreed between the parties. I hope this helps but I reiterate that your partner should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

  18. Hi, i have been divorced for 4 years after a 14 year relationship and under 1 year of marriage. My ex is now seeking a financial maintenance order. I pay regular CSA payments.

    Does the time we were married have any relevance to her claim?

    1. Thank you for your comment. In answer to your question; yes, the length of your marriage may be relevant to your ex wife’s maintenance claims. Other important factors are your respective ages, incomes (and earning capacities) and financial needs, i.e. the amount you both require to live on each month taking into consideration any liabilities. Although I am unable to provide you with any specific legal advice, given your short marriage and the length of your separation it may not be reasonable to expect you to provide maintenance to your ex wife, this is assuming she needs additional support and also assuming you have the funds to meet your own needs and meet some or all of any shortfall your wife may have. However, if your ex wife is unable to meet her monthly expenses and that of any child of the family, as a direct result of certain decisions you have both made during the marriage, e.g. that your wife would give up her job so that you could start a family. Then irrespective of the length of your marriage it may be reasonable to expect you to provide her with a certain level of financial support for a period of time, subject to it being affordable. I suggest you seek further independent legal advice.

  19. Hi,

    I’m working full time however, my income is very low, I signed divorce papers and i’m waiting for decree Nisi, few weeks ago I vacated the matrimonial property we used to share with my soon to be ex husband, I’m now struggling to pay for my bills and since he used to pay for all the bills and rent my question is whether this has set a precedent of maintenance and if I’m likely to be successful in an application, he earns more than me but I’m assuming he has spent most of his savings on solicitors fees.

    1. Thank you for your comment Helen. Determining the level and term of spousal maintenance largely depends on the needs of the receiving party and the financial means of the paying party. I am not able to provide you with any specific legal advice, however if you are unable to meet your day to day expenses on your current income, and if the disparity between your income and your husband’s income is great enough to result in your husband having a monthly surplus, it may be that it is appropriate to expect him to supplement your income in order to meet your monthly expenses for a period of time. Any earlier payments will not necessarily set a precedent if the amount is insufficient to meet your income needs. You refer to your ex possibly having spent his savings on solicitors: I would just observe that in the vast majority of cases maintenance is paid out of income. Savings (what lawyers refer to as capital) is usually irrelevant for questions of maintenance. Capital assets may be relevant for other claims that you could make against your ex but that is an entirely different question. I recommend that you seek independent legal advice from a specialist family solicitor.

  20. I was married to my ex husband for almost 10 years & a year b4 we divorced I got him a loan to do business which has since flourished now but he never paid back the loan and I do not have proof that I gave him this loan. He’s only paying for child maintenance now & no spousal maintenance since I can’t find a well paying job because of my qualifications that I couldn’t finish my studies since I was the bread winner. Am I entitled to a spousal maintenance & also how best do I get him to pay me back for the loan I got him to do business. Right now Im black listed & can’t get assistance from any bank to do business that can boost my income.

    1. Dear Edith. Thanks for reading our post and commenting. Much will depend on whether financial claims were dealt with when you divorced. If you had a lawyer at the time you should check why the issue of the loan doesn’t seem to have been dealt with and whether your claims for spousal maintenance remain (spousal maintenance ends on remarriage). You may want to review matters with another solicitor once you have this information if your claims have ended. If so, you should consider seeking advice from a solicitor who is a member of Resolution. I hope this helps.

  21. I was divorced in 2001 and court ruled for maintenance for my child and separate maintenance for my ex wife. I have paid both without question and ended my child’s maintenance when he started full time employment.
    My wife claimed she was unable to work due to health and having a young child, however she has worked full time for the last 15 years.
    She also has a partner and have been together for 6 years. He regularly stays at hers but as yet they have decided not to move in together full time.
    I have now been made redundant at the age of 56. I have enough money saved to probably see out my retirement but not if I have to use my savings to pay my ex wife.
    She is still in full time employment. Where do I stand if I wax to stop her payments

    1. Dear William. Thank you for your comment. All spousal maintenance orders are variable and it is open to either you or your former wife to ask for the payment levels to be altered if circumstances change. I would suggest that in your circumstances you should be looking to apply to the court for a downward variation of the maintenance although you should explain your change of circumstances to your former wife to see whether a variation can be agreed by ‘consent’. If not you can apply to the court to decide. Be aware though, that on an application to vary a maintenance order, the court can order that the balance of the maintenance payments be ‘capitalised’ and turned into a lump sum to be paid to your former wife instead, if there is enough cash available. You should seek legal advice as soon as possible. You may want to consider Mediation as your first step and a way of opening up the discussions with your former wife.

  22. Hi
    I was with my partner 14 years and had 3 children with him ( not married) I live in the house but I’m paying the mortgage and loans all in joint names , I’m not working at the moment as my youngest in young and managing to pay the mortgage with the csa payments I get , does he have to pay towards the house and loans? And would I be entitled to any maintaince as I had to move house 7 times in 10 years to follow his career, also we have been separated 18 months, have I left it too late ?

    1. Dear Claire, Thank you for your question. If the mortgage and/or the loans are in joint names or indeed your former partner’s sole name then yes he is liable to pay them or at least make a contribution towards them – you should seek expert help from a lawyer regarding this. Spousal maintenance is only payable where parties are or have been married. Unmarried couples who have separated do not have the same legal rights as married couples who are divorcing. There is provision under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 for the court to order financial provision for a child. This can be a useful tool for couples who have lived together but never married and have children together, especially if the other parent has assets or money. However, this is a complex area of the law and you should seek expert advice. There are no strict timescales to adhere to before making a claim. However I would strongly advise you not to leave it any longer as any delays may impact on a ‘needs’ argument.

  23. Hi I’ve been divorced for 2 years, my 2 children live with their mother. I would like to marry my new partner but concerned her salary be taken into account for monthly payments as we cohabit I regularly pay CSA, will this be affected if I remarry?

    1. Dear James. If you are paying child support (not spousal maintenance) through the CSA (now the Child Maintenance Service) then your payments will not be affected by your re-marriage.

  24. Hi, my ”ex” walked out on me 8 months ago. I am living in the ”marital” home, it was my house before we got together 20 yrs ago, for 7 years. We were married for 15 years and re mortgaged a couple of times firstly for house improvements and secondly to extend the term of the mortgage as I took a job with less money after a nervous breakdown. In the last 8 years my health has deteriorated so that I am now unable to work and am living on disability benefits. The DWP will not pay the interest on the mortgage as the last one was not for home improvements and I have no receipts of the work that was done years ago. Do you think I would have a possibility of spousal maintenance as I don’t want to leave my home but he wants me to sell it for a clean break. We are just starting the mediation process so I have not yet had any legal advice.

    1. Dear Patricia. Thank you for your query. Mediation is a process FLP are strong advocates of. That said you should consider getting advice before the process starts – and as the process continues – to understand the likely issues and your rights. Your need for financial support may be there but it may not be affordable for your former husband. Those issues will need to be reviewed following the information that should be gathered during the Mediation process. I recommend getting some initial advice from a Resolution member as they should adopt a non confrontational approach. Understanding your entitlement and options is vital. I would suggest that you create a detailed budget showing what you need, what income you have and what the shortfall is so that you can discuss this with your advisor.

  25. I separated from my husband in July last year. We continued to live in the same property (separate bedrooms) for the sake of our 3 year old twins. However, this was not successful, and as it’s his house (he has lived there for 12 years, pays the mortgage and all the bills etc) and as he would not agree to me moving to a rental property with the twins, I have moved to a flat nearby. I go to the house every morning to take the twins to nursery, and pick them up in the evening and take them back to the house. I stay there until they are in bed then go back to the flat. I gave up my full time job when I became pregnant, and was a ‘stay at home’ mum until starting part time work in November 2014. He is now claiming the child benefit, but he is not paying anything to me – I am looking for more working hours, but cannot work full time because of the nursery timings. Does he have to pay spousal maintenance in these circumstances?

    1. Thank you for your comment. In the event of any application you may make to the court for ancillary relief, including the payment of spousal maintenance, the court must consider all the circumstances of your case with the first consideration being given to the welfare of any minor child. The court shall also consider you and your husband’s respective incomes, earning capacities, resources, financial responsibilities and needs. The law does not discriminate against the role of the home maker or carer of children but instead considers such contributions to be equal to that of the ‘bread-winner’.

      If you are unable to work full time because of the arrangement you and your husband have agreed relating to the children and if you are unable to meet your monthly living expenses, then a court may consider it appropriate that your husband provide you with a level of support (providing this is affordable) until you are able to enhance your earning capacity and become financially self-sufficient. Furthermore, despite the fact that your former matrimonial home was owned by your husband prior to your marriage it does not necessarily mean that you have no beneficial interest in the property. On separation it is important that your housing needs are also met, although it is worth bearing in mind that at the moment this shall likely equate to a one bedroom property as the twins are not currently staying overnight with you.

      On a final point, it is important that matters relating to the children and finances are kept separate. At first glance, if, prior to your separation, you cared for the twins on a day-to-day basis, and it appears that you continue to play an important role in their lives, there seems no obvious reason why you should be prevented from having the children overnight at your flat – providing your accommodation is adequate for their needs. I recommend that you obtain some independent legal advice from a Resolution-accredited family solicitor.

  26. Hi,
    I’ve been married 7 years, together 11.. We separated last July.. He earns around 90,000 a year.. I earn 11000.. His solicitor says we had a short marriage and I’m not entitled to spousal maintenance .. My solicitor says I would be. I would just like another opinion please.

    1. Dear Leanne. Thank you for your post. We would need to understand more about your circumstances but the idea that maintenance should be ignored does not fit with the circumstances you have described. Determining the level and term of spousal maintenance will depend on your needs and the financial means of your husband. You need to ask your solicitor to advise on how much you can ask for and for how long.

  27. Hello,
    thank you for raising this topic. My situation is as follows: I am engaged to a man who is divorced for over 8 years now from his ex-wife and back then two young children. Due to his financial circumstances, he couldn’t afford a lump sum payment and is now stuck with unlimited spousal maintenance payments (besides the natural child support) until she remarriages (which is very unlikely to happen as she gets a very good deal) or dies. While the salary of my partner increased since the divorce, he expects that it will stagnate soon if not go down (he is 55 and thinks of retiring at 65). We received advise, that he should give his ex the heads-up and informing her in writing that he expects to retire at 65 and he will therefore not be able to afford to keep the level of payments up – way before actually reducing payments when circumstances are changing. According to the divorce agreement, she cannot claim any of his pay rises or bonuses (or his retirement money) as long as he’s paying what he is supposed to including the annual adjustment of his payments by inflation rate. We have to expect that she will try to fight it and I wonder if a new assessment of his financial situation may take my salary and savings into account as well if we were married. That said, could I actually end up contributing to the spousal maintenance if my husband to be retires or let’s see loses his job? If not directly, indirectly as they court may find that my husband is still having a good lifestyle since I am still working (I am 12 years younger)? In other words, is it a risk for me getting married to someone with my partner’s circumstances? Hope this makes sense. Thank you in advance.

    1. Thank you for your comment Isabella. As your fiancé has no doubt been advised, if there has been an actual or anticipated change in his financial circumstances (retirement or approaching retirement is a good example) it is possible to apply to the court to downward vary the level of spousal maintenance he is currently paying his first wife in the absence of her consent. On such an application the court shall consider all the circumstances of the case including the welfare of any minor children of the family. In the event that you and your fiancé are currently cohabiting or expect to cohabit in the 6 months following any application made to the court, your fiancé shall have a duty to disclose your income and capital assets, which may be taken into consideration when assessing his income, resources and monthly expenses. The need to disclose this is based on cohabitation rather than marital status, however more weight is likely to be attributed to your income and/or assets in the event you are married as this infers (in the eyes of the family court) a greater deal of stability to your relationship.

  28. Hi. My wife had an affair and I left the martial home and the children as I thought it was for the best. She has since moved him into the marital home within a month of separation. I am still paying for the mortgage even though I am no longer living at the property. I am mature fulltime student with no financial income. Would I be eligible for spousal maintenance even though her need seems to be greater as she has the children.

    1. Thank you for your post. It may be worth getting some initial advice and perhaps suggesting that you and your wife attend mediation with a view to exploring financial issues. That would include how the mortgage is going to be paid going forward, what contribution should be made by her partner and so forth. If she is unable to meet her needs and there will be no prospect of financial support towards you; the fact that she is looking after the children and gender will not determine the issue. It is based on need and ability to pay. To understand all the circumstances of your case it would be important to get advice as an early stage. We wish you all the very best.

  29. I am in the process of dissolving my civil partnership, my ex is not currently working and I only work part time, I also have custody of our daughter, can my ex claim for spousal maintenance from me?

    1. Thank you for your post. We think it would be good idea if you get some initial advice from a solicitor who specialises in family law and who is a member of Resolution. I would imagine – although this can be looked at in detail – that your income is exhausted in running the home and providing for your daughter’s needs. If it is, then it is inconceivable that you would have to pay any maintenance. As with every case, it is all case specific and that is why it is important to get some advice to reassure yourself as to your position. Do think carefully about the model being used to try and resolve matters. Involving a Family Consultant at an early stage where children are involved to manage the separation in the most child focused and sensitive way possible is, in our experience, invaluable.

  30. Hi,
    I have been with my husband for 31 years and married for nearly 22.
    He has been paying the mortgage for all this time as had a successful career while I raised our 3 children who are now in their late teens. I have not worked as such in this time only working a little bit from home which does not generate a liveable wage.
    We are going through a rough time and we both feel we need to seperate. He has now stopped paying me a monthly allowance and expects me now to contribute towards the mortgage and utilities etc. There is no way that I can afford to do this. He says we are better off to sell the house and split 50/50. With the proceeds split down the middle I will not be able to buy a house as I will not be able to get a mortgage ; only rent whereas he still will be able to get a mortgage and live as comfortably as before.
    Given the circumstances will I be entitled to more?

    1. Dear Sarah. Thank you for your comment. It sounds like a very worrying time for you. The issues you have raised are wide and need to be looked at as a whole. I would suggest that you meet with a Resolution family law specialist so that you can review the options available to you and to get advice and guidance on what the future might look like for you and your family. As you will have seen from the article, ‘needs’ will need to be looked at very carefully. You can also talk through the different processes available to deal with your separation such as Mediation, Collaborative Law & Arbitration.

  31. Hi there, thanks for this post, it’s really interesting. My husband and I divorced 5 years ago and I was bullied in to signing the documents so quickly that I never received any legal advice. My ex is now remarried and living in a large 4 bed house with his new wife and baby whilst I and our 2 children live in a small 2 bedroom rented property. I have recently made the decision to seek legal advice as I have great concerns over my financial future as I work part time due to having the children (10 and 6) in a low paid job with a charity. My ex is refusing to fill in the Form E that my solicitor has given him and without it she won’t give me any indication of what I could be entitled to. He keeps demanding to know what I’m asking for but I can’t tell him as I don’t know! It’s impossible. He has now agreed to meet with me face to face to discuss it but I desperately need some indication of what to tell him. I know you can’t give me specific advice but do you think I have a reasonable claim to some spousal maintenance and/or some of his pension? Thank you!

    1. Dear Corrie. Thank you for your comment. It is not clear whether what you signed was a Consent Order in which case it may be difficult for you to re-open the financial issues. Having said that if your solicitor has sent him a Form E it indicates to me that a formal final agreement was not in fact entered in to. Rather than meet with your former husband I would suggest that Mediation would be a more appropriate first step. If he continues to refuse to provide financial disclosure voluntarily then you need to consider whether an application to the court for a financial remedy order may be appropriate. However, it is always advisable to consider other options before involving the court if possible. It is impossible for us to provide advice without all the facts but it is important that you address all the financial issues which will include spousal maintenance and pensions. Our factsheet ‘Settling Financial Issues Following Divorce’ may help in providing some further information.

    1. Dear James. Thank you for your query. There is no legal obligation on you to pay your wife maintenance in the absence of an agreement or court order. It is impossible for us to advise whether you should be paying maintenance or not as we do not have all the facts and financial information. As you will have seen in the blog any maintenance claim is based on ‘needs’ and wherewithal to pay. What I would say is that if your wife has not sought to claim any maintenance from you since separation then there is potentially a case on your part to suggest that she doesn’t ‘need’ it. That is not to say it wouldn’t be ordered should the matter come before a Judge nor does it absolve any legal obligation you may have in respect of a mortgage on the family home for example. I would advise you to seek advice in respect of your options as it may be beneficial for you to consider commencing divorce proceedings sooner rather than later.

  32. Hi There,

    I am living with my partner for 2 years we have a 1 years old son together. He was married had 2 children with his wife and one child in wedlock which he now have 4 children. My question is, I am stressing the fact that he is paying spousal mainentance to his ex-wife and child maintenance which i would like this spousal mainentance to be stopped , currently he is living a good life with me as i have a good job and earn a decent amount and he is not getting much out of his salary and still needs to support his other kids. He is not open to what the agreement was when they divorced and its not easy getting anything out of him as he always seems to be lying to me not to lose me. He wants to get married but i cannot bare sharring his salary with another woman and have asked him to go back to court to stop this spousal maintenance as he can barely support himself. Will the court take my Salary into consideration and combined with his to make this difficult decision .

    1. Thank you for your comment. If your partner is finding it difficult to meet spousal maintenance payments to his ex-wife then, in the absence of agreement, he has the option of applying to the court for either a decrease in the amount he pays or for payments to stop completely. However, the success of his application will depend on all the circumstances of the case including: the length of time he has been making payments; the basis on which the original maintenance order was made i.e. was it agreed by consent or determined by the court and is maintenance payable on a joint lives basis or for a fixed term; the existence of minor children; whether his ex-wife is capable of increasing her income and becoming financially self-sufficient and whether it is reasonable to expect her to do so; the length of his first marriage and the standard of living he enjoyed with his first wife. Your partner may also need to demonstrate that there has been or expects to be a change in his financial situation which has or shall render the original maintenance payments unaffordable. As part of an overall assessment of your partner’s resources, if you and your partner are living together, your income and capital may be taken into consideration, as will the fact that your partner is financially providing for another son. I suggest your partner obtains legal advice from a specialist family solicitor.

  33. I am male 66 and going through divorce, i have a private pension and a part time job, my ex wife is 60 and works full time and earns more then i have coming in, but she thinks she is entitled to monthly money from me and some of my pension. is she right?

    1. Many thanks for your comment Simon. The principle purpose of a spousal maintenance order is to meet the needs of the receiving party and providing it is affordable for the paying party. If your ex wife is receiving a higher income than you, I do not see on what basis she would have a legitimate claim to need spousal maintenance. Pension sharing is a separate matter. Depending on the circumstances of your case, including the length of your marriage, the comparable values of your respective pension assets and whether your ex wife has been in any way disadvantaged from being able to build up pension assets of her own due to decisions that you have both made during your marriage e.g. your ex wife has cared for your children and has not worked for many years prior to your separation, a pension sharing order may be appropriate. The purpose of a pension sharing order is to achieve either equality of pension income or capital on your retirement. In the event that you have not yet obtained your own legal advice relating to divorce and financial matters, please contact our Practice Manager, Miriam Walters, who can arrange for you to come in and see one of our Specialist Family Solicitors.

  34. Is there a case for spousal support to be paid when husband leaving creates additional expensive childcare costs for parent with care? I work shifts and now since my husband has left I will be forced to pay for out of hours childcare which I didn’t need before. Whilst I earn more than my ex husband I will struggle financially with 2 children as a single parent, I earn too much for tax credit help and I won’t get maintenance since my children are not his but from a prior relationship.

    1. Dear Justine, thank you for your comment. As you will have read any spousal maintenance claim is based on ‘needs’ and ability to pay. I would need to understand more about your circumstances but I would suggest that in your case spousal maintenance is something that will need to be considered in more detail. I would add that in circumstances where your outgoings have increased it is not automatic that spousal maintenance would be payable as your ‘needs’ would still need to be very carefully analysed, as would your husband’s needs and his ability to pay. The fact that your husband is not the father of your children may have an impact depending on a number of other factors which can be complex. I would advise you to take independent legal advice and of course we would be happy to assist.

  35. I was divorced 12 years ago with a joint lives order requiring me to pay £2000 each month until my ex-wife either retires, remarries or further order. She was a stay at home mother at the time of the divorce with a 15 and 18 year old living with her. I was ordered to pay separately for the children until they were 21. Our assets were split 50/50 and she received £750k plus a half share of my pension. My ex wife immediately found work after our divorce and has worked for the last 11 years. She has also generated at least £400k from property dealings. She recently gave up her job and purchased a successful luxury bed and breakfast business which she now manages with her partner with whom she is cohabiting. Do I have a case for seeking a variation of the original order and possibly a full dismissal?

    1. Thank you for commenting on our post. I think it would be well worth you exploring the options and on the face of it you may have a good argument for variation and possibly dismissal. It will be dependent upon the detail. Variation proceedings can be disproportionate from a cost perspective. If you would like to speak further – not only about the detail, but also the process options – then please contact my colleague Miriam at miriam@familylawpartners.co.uk who can arrange a consultation.

  36. my husband is applying for spousal maintenance as since leaving him i have gained more qualifications and had a slight salary increase, he is working and but his wage is slightly less than mine, but he can still pay the mortgage and run a car, would i have to pay him maintenance, there are no children in the marriage.

    1. Dear Sharon. Thank you for your question. We would need to have more detail to be able to make any specific observations but on the face of it I would say that it would be quite unusual for spousal maintenance to be paid where your incomes are very similar, both parties’ needs are able to be met and there are no children of the marriage. If your husband makes a formal application it will be very important for you to get early legal advice. Please don’t hesitate to contact our Practice Manager Miriam Walters on 01273 646905 or Miriam@familylawpartners.co.uk if you think it would be helpful to see one our specialist lawyers. Alternatively, choose a specialist lawyer in your region from the Resolution website.

  37. I’ve left my wife after 20 so yrs of marriage as not in love anymore, 1 child is at home but 18&working. I’ve not suggested selling the house & left everything in it…. She works full time, I pay half the mortgage, half an endowment policy & she gets half my pension…. She has plenty of money left over after bills are paid. Do I have to pay any more to her to help towards her bills…

    1. Thank you for your comment. Without knowing the full facts and detailed information about your respective financial positions it is difficult to advise you. As you will have read spousal maintenance may well be payable to your wife if she ‘needs’ it and you have the wherewithal to pay it. There would need to be a careful analysis of your finances both from an income/outgoing perspective and a capital perspective. If you have reached the agreement with your wife as you have set out it is vital that you get this agreement drawn up formally through a lawyer so as to limit any future claims against you. Please don’t hesitate to contact our practice manager Miriam Walters on 01273 646905 or miriam@familylawpartners.co.uk if you think it would be helpful to see one our specialist lawyers. Alternatively, choose a specialist lawyer in your region from the Resolution website.

  38. Hi There,
    Really interested in the comments that you have been posted to various issues and would like some assistance to.
    I have been split from my Wife now for nearly a year ( My Wife’s Decision ). We have 2 children under 10 and we are still living in the marital home together. My wife has agreed to release equity out of the house to enable me to buy another property. We have agreed that I will have my children at least 3 nights per week. Wednesday / Friday and Sunday. I will also drop them into school on the mornings after as well as feed and look after them during the weekend days I have them. My Wife earns more money than myself and as she is my junior by 10 years her earnings will increase over time whereas mine will stay the same. As we are basically splitting the children 50/50, do I still have to pay her maintenance especially as she is on more money. I’d love to know your thoughts.

    1. Dear Craig

      Thank you for your comment. Child maintenance and spousal maintenance are two separate things. As parents, you and your wife both have an obligation to maintain your children until they attain the age of 18 and complete full time tertiary education (in the majority of cases). When parents are separated, the non-resident parent is expected to make a financial contribution to the parent the children are living with. If parents are unable to agree on the amount, the matter can be referred to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to undertake a calculation of the non resident parents child maintenance liability based on a statutory formula. Various factors reduce the amount payable including the number of nights the children stay with the non-resident parent. In the event you and your wife, post your physical separation, have equal shared care of the children then this shall effectively reduce your child maintenance liability to a nominal sum. With regards to spousal maintenance, this is a different matter, and shall be determined by the courts in the absence of agreement. Spousal maintenance may be appropriate if required to meet the needs of the receiving party and if affordable by the paying party. In circumstances in which your wife is currently earning more income than you, and has a greater earning capacity (to which age is a relevant factor), it may be that spousal maintenance is not appropriate. Before you and your wife make any substantive decisions about financial matters, it is advisable to obtain independent legal advice from a specialist family solicitor (you can find one in your region from the Resolution website). I would strongly suggest that you consider mediation as an option. I hope this helps.

  39. Amicably separated and living apart for 6years. He has been coming to visit on a daily basis, our Son now 29 lives with me. My husband has been paying all of the bill’s without question, as he said he wanted us all to start a fresh selling the house that I and my Son live in. I have found numerous properties of which he has agreed were suitable, but nothing has progressed. Now he has decided that he is no longer going to provide me with money or to pay the bills. I gave up my career to stay home and bring up our children, I’m now in poor health which is why my Son has stayed with me. I would appreciate your thoughts as to What I can do?

    1. Thank you for your comment Jan. For the purpose of my response, I have assumed that you and your husband have not divorced nor entered into a formal Consent Order resolving financial matters. In the absence of consent, and simultaneous with divorce proceedings, you are able to bring an application for financial orders against your husband. Such orders consist of payment of lump sums, property adjustment, payment of maintenance and pension sharing. In determining what (if any) financial orders to make, the court shall consider a statutory criteria which includes the welfare of any minor children, the parties’ respective incomes, earning capacities, resources and liabilities, the length of the marriage, the parties’ ages, health and previous standard of living. In your case, as your son is over the age of 18, he shall no longer be the first consideration of the court. However, if your son is effectively acting as your live-in carer (or expects to be in the foreseeable future) this may be relevant in determining your housing needs. With regards to income, the fact that you have sacrificed your career by looking after your children during the marriage, and given your current poor health, will be relevant factors when the court considers your earning capacity. In the event your income is not sufficient to meet your monthly expenses and your earning capacity is limited for the reasons set out above, it may be that the court would consider it reasonable for your husband to provide you with a level of on-going financial support, providing it is affordable for him to do so. I would suggest that in the first instance you and your husband consider Mediation as it is often a great place to open up your discussions as money is often a difficult issue to raise with a former partner particularly when emotions may be running high. I would recommend looking at the Resolution web site for more information

    2. Thank you so much for your response Gemma, you have been very helpful, we have been married for over 35 year’s, so this is all very scarry for me, as he frequently tells me that I will be homeless. My Son is concerned for my welfare, which is why he hasn’t moved out and moved on with his life. I will certainly look into mediation and hopefully thing’s will get resolved. Albeit with maybe the help of a solicitor I think.
      Regards Jan.

  40. If a pension order is in place in favour of the payee of spousal maintenance, if the pension is now the only source of income for the payee is that person still obliged to pay spousal maintenance given the order that the payee retain his pension.

    1. Thank you for our post. Much will depend on the order that is in place and the present position and without knowing more we could not comment. The impact of retirement may be a reason to review a spousal maintenance order and so I would recommend that you seek advice on your particular circumstances as soon as possible. If you would like to review this issue then please contact our practice manager Miriam who can arrange for us to meet, or alternatively, please find a Resolution member local to where you are to advise you on this issue. I would suggest you do so sooner rather than later.

  41. Hello,
    My mum and dad have been separated for nearly three years, my dad left my mum and went to live in Texas, I believe he has a business there. If my dad files for a divorce will my mum have to pay spousal support/ alimony if he claims for it, even though they’ve been separated for 3 years.

    1. Many thanks for your comment Elie. In your parent’s situation, there are two points to raise. First, in England and Wales, until your parents are divorced and have formerly dismissed their respective financial claims against one another, either by entering into a Consent Order approved by the Court or following a final order having been made by a Judge, it is open to either one of them to commence divorce and financial proceedings against the other including a claim for spousal maintenance. This is irrespective of the length of their separation. Nevertheless, this is likely to be taken into consideration by a court as part of the overall circumstances of the case in assessing what, if any, financial orders to make. In practice, the longer the period of separation the less merit to any income claim. Secondly, as your father is habitually resident in Texas and your mother is habitually resident in England there are potentially two competing jurisdictions in which divorce and financial proceedings can be made. Care should be taken to determine which may be the most advantageous jurisdiction for your mother. Ideally she should obtain advice from specialist family lawyers in both countries. If your father commenced proceedings in Texas, the Courts of England and Wales may impose a stay (i.e. a temporary suspension) of proceedings commenced by your mother in England, where it appears that the balance of fairness (including convenience) is such that it is more appropriate for the proceedings in Texas to be dealt with first. The existence of your father’s business assets in Texas could well be a relevant consideration. Although strictly speaking not determinative, following an assessment of the legal position in both competing jurisdictions, it may be beneficial for your mother to issue proceedings first in England, even if this is to secure a financial clean break from your father in the absence of consent. My advice would be that your mother should seek urgent advice in England as soon as possible. Please do contact our practice manager, Miriam Walters, if you feel we could assist further.

  42. Hi,

    My question is, Can i force my ex into a consent order and do we need the mediation before we ask the courts to intervene?

    thanks

    1. Dear Jeet. Thank you for reading my blog. A ‘consent’ order is something that is entered into by the parties because they have reached agreement. Therefore your ex cannot be forced into a ‘consent’ order because he does not consent! If an agreement is consensual it’s because both parties agree and that agreement should be freely given. I would recommend that you try mediation in the first instance.

  43. Good evening.
    My husband and I have recently parted and he will be moving into rented accommodation in a few weeks. I will remain in the marital home with our 3 year old daughter. He wants me to give up my full time career due to it not being practical for him as I work shifts. I don’t want money from him but I would like him to look after our daughter when I’m at work. Does he have to support my decision to remain in my job or am I being selfish as to wanting him to look after her at unsociable hours.
    Thank you

    1. Thank you for your comment Jo. Managing childcare arrangements around work commitments is a challenge for many separating couples. While it is not possible for your husband to force you to give up your job, it is also not possible for you to force your husband to look after your daughter while you are at work. If you did decide to give up your career to look after your daughter, assuming you have no additional income source in which to meet your needs, it is likely that your husband shall be required to provide you with continuing financial support by way of child and spousal maintenance providing it is affordable for him to do so. In the event it is not affordable and/or your husband is unwilling to pay spousal maintenance voluntarily (your husband shall have an obligation to pay child maintenance until at least your daughter completes full time secondary education based on a percentage of his gross weekly earnings), then without a court order compelling your husband to continue financially supporting you, you will have no option but to support yourself by working. If the matter was being determined by a court, you will be expected to enhance your earning capacity with a view to becoming financially self-sufficient in the future. Before entering into any agreement with your husband I recommend that you obtain independent legal advice from a Resolution specialist family solicitor or consider attending Mediation together in the first instance to see if any common ground can be established.

  44. My husband and I divorced 9 years ago after a 34 year marriage. He had found a new partner which led to the breakdown of our marriage. I was granted a Consent order which entitled me to £1500 a month maintenance until I remarried or died. He made a few payments and then I allowed him to cease paying as I had met someone else and was to some extent being supported by him. My circumstances have now changed and I am on my own again. I am extremely worried about the future as I will have to rely solely on a state pension of under £700 per month. My husband resides with his partner (they have not married) and her 22 year old daughter in his 96 year old father’s home which is worth about £850k with my ex being the sole heir. Can I legally ask him to resume paying me maintenance, even perhaps at a lower rate than the original rate of £1500 per month? Also, am I entitled to a lump sum of unpaid maintenance for the last 8 years?

    1. Dear Louise – thank you for your post. The order will need to be reviewed by a solicitor (and if we can help then please feel free to contact us). On the face of it, unless and until dismissed by a court, the order would remain in place. I think the issue in relation to pursuing any notional arrears in circumstances where you had, in effect, agreed to payments stopping is a separate and more difficult issue, but what is clear is that you need to pursue this sooner rather than later. I hope that helps.

  45. My wife and I were divorced in the 90s, she was given the matrimonial home and I was ordered to pay maintence for the children. We subsequently remarried 16 years ago and because of my concern a tenant in common agreement was reached given certain percentage to each the higher to me. She has not contributed to the mortgage or to any bills during the past 15+ years although she has worked intermittently. Until retirement I gave her a weekly allowance but as payment of the very large mortgage and house builds have become a huge burden I have had to reduce it then stop it altogether as she is in receipt of state pension. She is demanding that I reinstate weekly/monthly payments although my mortgage and household builds exceed my pension payments. would she be entitled to claim spousal payments from me and would I be able to meet this. The only option is selling the house. I would be most obliged for any guidance – Thank you

    1. Dear Roy. Thank you for your post. I would need to understand more about your circumstances but I would suggest that on the face of it, it is clear that there would need to be a careful analysis of both your finances not just from an income/outgoing perspective but also a capital perspective e.g. property. The fact that your wife has not contributed to the mortgage or to any bills during the past 15 years is unlikely to reduce any financial claims she may have available to her. I would recommend that you seek bespoke advice from a Resolution lawyer and/or consider using Mediation or the collaborative process to deal with the issues.

  46. My husband and I have been married for 16 years and have 1 awesome daughter together (age 13). I have been a stay-at-home mom since she was born and still am today – we both agreed that raising our daughter at home was important and I left my full-time job and have not worked since. I am 50, he is 47. He has a good job, 28+ years, pension, when and if he decides to retire – he could actually retire now if he so chose that option. Anyways, we both have agreed to getting a divorce. It’s just best, especially for my daughter’s sake. He is a great father and will always be a huge of her life and that will not change. It’s us that’s the problem.. he has severe anger issues and will yell and scream wildly crazy at me in front of her, even though I beg him not to do so. I am in no way perfect – but I just can’t and won’t stand for it anymore. I so wish I was an independent person again but I gave up that life for our family and now I am totally dependent on him – big mistake. My question to you is: am I entitled/eligible to receive both alimony and child support? Or will I receive just child support? Or some monthly arrangement according to his salary etc.? We live in an apartment, own nothing, he pays the rent/bills and will give me an allowance each week out of his check that he sees fit for me and my daughter – which I can assure you – is anything but fit. I must beg for money – Yes, it is his money, not ours – do hope I’m painting a clear picture here – control is his life. I am concerned, real concerned so I thought I’d flat out ask for your advice – he makes 100,000 per year – what do you think a Court will rule here in MA? Also, I have no income of my own so he has agreed to pay for the lawyer and Court costs–IF we do this thing together – I ask you – what choice do I have here??

    1. Dear Cheryl, thank you for your comment. I’m afraid that we cannot make any comments in relation to family law and its operation in Massachusetts. We can only do so in relation to family law as it pertains to England and Wales. We suggest you find an American attorney who practices in that US state.

  47. I am on separation for three years ago. I have two kids .I’m renting a flat staying with my daughters. my husband is staying with his girlfriend and 9 month year old child from his girlfriend. I have no authority of entry throughprotection order protested by my husband against me.we are both employed serving the same department . He pays maintenance for our last born the amount of R1000 monthly since April 2016. For the one doing first year in university he only gives as he wishR 2 800.00 from February to May. Then R450 .00 for this month. He doesn’t support me. Do i qualify for spouse maintaince and also can I apply for this one with no maintaince or she can apply for herself she is turning 20 in September.

    1. Dear Mandisa. It appears from your post that you and your husband do not reside in England. I’m afraid that we cannot make any comments in relation to family law and its operation in other countries. We can only do so in relation to family law as it pertains to England and Wales. I would suggest that you find a lawyer that is local to you.

  48. After 25 years of marriage my husband wants to split. He has a very well paid job. I earn circa 10k but it was agreed I look after the house. Children don’t live at home. Husband states will not pay spousal maintenance. However his disposable income will be much more than mine. Looking at the level of need will I will struggle to pay the bills as haven’t had chance to secure full time work. We are in our 50s.

    1. Dear Nancy. Thank you for your comment. The subject of spousal maintenance is often a difficult issue as you will have seen from the article and the many comments we have had on it. Ultimately, whether spousal maintenance is appropriate and, if so, the level and the length of time that it should be paid always depends upon the specific circumstances of the case. On the face of it your circumstances suggest to me that maintenance is certainly something that needs to be discussed in more detail and I would strongly recommend that you make an appointment with a Resolution lawyer so that you can discuss the individual circumstances of your case or consider attending Mediation with your husband.

  49. Hi

    My wife and I are on the verge of separating despite real effort on both our parts.

    We have been together for 10 years and married for 8. My wife has 2 children from a previous unmarried relationship (18 & 15) and we have two children together (7 & 5).

    The father of the older 2 children is a thoroughly unpleasant man and has never made any financial or emotional contribution for the older 2 children. I took them on as my own and loved and provided for them without any question or thought.

    My salary currently is £38500. My wife has always worked and she currently earns £16500. I can’t see that that would change after separation. Her career hasn’t suffered due to her family commitments and it is unlikely she would earn anymore than this. She shouldn’t need to reduce her hours either.

    The only debts we have are the mortgage.

    All of our children currently attend a private school which is paid for by my employer, however that will cease once we separate. We will need to remove them and place them in a state school.

    My question is would I be expected pay maintenance (child and spousal?) for all 4 children?

    After my travel expenses I only take home £2100 pm and my wife takes home £1100 pm. There isn’t a huge difference. How much am I likely to have to contribute?

    I sometimes work away and receive allowances to compensate me for living costs and hardship. Would that money count? It isn’t at the moment as it is paid tax free.

    Any advice/observations would be helpful.

    Thanks

    1. Dear Lee. Thank you for your post. Child maintenance for your biological children would be dealt with via the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) in the absence of an agreement with your wife. The CMS does not have jurisdiction to assess your liability in respect of your step children but the Family Court does and in circumstances where they have been treated as ‘children of the family’ it is likely that you would have a responsibility to provide support for them. Support for step children is a complex area and the court would use the figures used by the CMS as a starting point for assessing any maintenance liability towards the step children taking into account the proposed payer’s financial resources and obligations which would include other commitments to pay child maintenance for any other children. You may find this child maintenance calculator helpful. You are likely to have an obligation which is based on a percentage of your gross weekly earnings in accordance with the your annual P60 irrespective of your outgoings (other than pension contributions) until the children finish full time education at least but generally not past the age of 20. Spousal maintenance is a different issue and as you will have read focuses on ‘needs’ and ‘ability to pay’. I would recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible. You may also want to consider Mediation or Collaborative Law as a way of opening up the discussions with your wife.

  50. My partner has an inherited business turning over in the region of £500k annually, but which could be worth up to £5m. The business is a limited company and he is now the sole shareholder, he takes around £100,00 a year in salary and shares. . His wife has a part time job and receives a small income from the business, both together totalling around £25k pa. They have a 5 bedroomed family home worth around £400 with no mortgage and one grown up child of 28. He is intending to give his wife the house completely, and an allowance possibly monthly but is worried about what might happen to the business. Obviously it is worth a great deal of money, but to release the capital, he would have to sell it (which he doesn’t want to do) but which would also remove his income stream.
    How can he be sure that the court won’t insist he liquidate his asset?

    1. Dear Sarah. Thank you for your comment. This is too complex a question to answer within the context of a short response within this forum and to properly advise your partner we would need to understand all the facts, look at the options and so forth. Your partner needs to get specialist advice as soon as possible. If we are able to assist then please let us know; if not we would suggest he consults with a family lawyer who is a member of Resolution.

  51. Hi,
    I was married to my husband for 33 years but we were separated for the last 8. We divorced last year so that he could re marry. He agreed to pay me a spousal payment each week of which he had been doing for the last 3 years. This helped me to run a car which I needed to go to and from work. He has just informed me that they can no longer pay me as his new wife has had her hours reduced at work. They live in large house which she acquired from her recent divorce and my ex husband is on a good salary, 4 times what mine is. I live with my daughter and her family as I am unable to afford my own place, I share a bedroom with my granddaughter of 3 yrs. I would just like to know if possible, if I should get a consent order done or a financial order? The only agreement we had was in the divorce papers. Thankyou

    1. Thank you for your comment Leah. Despite the fact you and your ex husband divorced last year, as you have not formerly dismissed your respective financial claims against him, it is possible for you to either enter into a Consent Order with your ex husband dealing with your claims for on-going spousal maintenance or, in the absence of agreement, issue financial proceedings. As your ex husband has since re-married he is prohibited from bringing any financial claims against you. In considering the merits of your claim for spousal maintenance the Court will look at all the circumstances of your case, including your respective ages, incomes, earning capacities, resources and liabilities. The first consideration of the Court shall be to the welfare of any minor children. Essentially the guiding principles determining the appropriateness of spousal maintenance are ‘the needs of the receiving party’ and ‘the affordability of the paying party’. The Court may attribute your ex husband’s wife with a greater earning capacity than her current income due to her reduction in working hours. As such, the Court may not be satisfied that this justifies imposing a clean break order. Much would depend on the circumstances of your case. I suggest you obtain independent legal advice from a Resolution family law specialist local to you.

  52. My ex never paid me spousal payments ever.
    I believe it is 10 years worth after being awarded this due to him being dis honest about our financials and hid money.
    I have now remarried but is it possible to claim for all those missed payments – £850 per month as he does not pay what he is meant to for child payments???

    1. Thank you for your comment. In order to enforce any arrears of spousal maintenance over 12 months old you would need permission of the court. Whether or not you would be successful in obtaining the permission of the court would depend upon the particular circumstances of your case. However, as a matter of law spousal maintenance claims come to an end upon remarriage and therefore any spousal maintenance claims that you may have had would have ceased on the date when you remarried. This does not bring to an end any obligation that your former spouse may have to pay child maintenance and you may wish to consider contacting the Child Maintenance Service regarding this in the first instance. If you know your former husband’s income you can use our calculator to get an idea of what the liability should be.

  53. My wife and I have only been married 3 years. She recently left clearing the house of her belongings, leaving a note that said, she was really sorry but because of the age difference (30+ Years) she did not think we wanted the same things etc etc.
    After a lot of discussion over the next week, she came back agreeing for us to try again. With 3 weeks she decides this is not what she wants and we are back at the beginning. She has absolutely no grounds for divorce but wants to make this choice.
    If she decides to leave:
    1. Do I still have an obligation to pay anything to her given she is currently here and free to stay here:
    2. Does she have any rights to maintenance ( she has a job and an income from me which will continue).

    1. Thank you for your comment. The act of getting married creates legal obligations and responsibilities which include the potential of a maintenance order being made (on either side). Whether or not maintenance is appropriate in your situation will depend upon the individual circumstances of your case. I would strongly suggest that you obtain legal advice as to your position.

  54. This is my 2nd marriage we have been married for 10years no. Children my husband has sadly been diagnosed with a mental illness personality disorder I want a divorce he says I will get nothing and will not be able survive financially I cannot carry on in this situation I only work part time very low income he earns 4 times as much as me has other property’s all of which he gets income

    1. Dear Helen. Thank you for your comment. Getting married creates legal obligations and responsibilities. What is appropriate in your situation will depend upon the individual circumstances of your case. I would strongly suggest that you obtain legal advice as to your position and that you consult a lawyer who is a member of Resolution.

  55. Hello, I am thinking of divorcing my husband as I have discovered he has had an affair and been away on holiday with this lady. I have not worked for a few years due to illness and suffer from PTSD and severe anxiety. Please can you tell me if I would qualify for spousal maintenance as I am worried how I will cope being unable at the present time to work. Thank you

    1. Dear Lynda, thank you for your post. As you will probably have read any spousal maintenance claim by you would be based on your ‘needs’ and your husband’s ability to pay. Important factors including your health issues and earning capacity/ability to work will need to be carefully considered. I would recommend that you obtain legal advice as early as possible and that you consult a lawyer who is a member of Resolution.

  56. I married in Mauritius in Dec 2009 and signed a pre-nup. By court order I had to leave the rented family homes March 2015 and we proceeded with family arrangements order first which after a year was finalised with luckily 50/50 shared care of our children. I have a house I bought well before meeting the ex and she never lived in it or contributed a penny towards it. Has she got a high chance of getting anything from me regarding the house? Also, will I have to contribute anything else financially seeing as Hmrc have agreed I am entitled to half the benefits as a parent I am entitled to apply for?

    1. Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. We are unable to give specific advice to individual circumstances within this forum. I would recommend that you obtain some advice as soon as possible from a Resolution lawyer as there are a number of issues that you will need to address. You may find this article a useful read, as well as this factsheet.

  57. Hi, I married in India 9 years ago and living in UK from past 5 years, and separated from my wife from last 3 months. I have recently filed a divorce. My wife is working since 3 years and has around 25k as saving in her account. We do not have any kids or property in UK. I do have a house in India in joint name.
    How much I need to pay her in divorce. Also will they check our asset/savings in India as well?
    if I can prove that she is earning well and has enough money to survive do I still need to pay her maintenance.
    Please advise?

    1. Thank you for your comment Raj. Spousal maintenance may be appropriate if the receiving party is unable to meet their income needs and if it is affordable for the paying party. If your wife is able to meet her monthly expenses on her earnings alone then it is likely that spousal maintenance will not be appropriate. Regarding capital assets, when resolving financial matters either by consent or through the Courts, all assets held solely and/or jointly both in the UK and abroad will be considered. However, pre-marital assets may be excluded from consideration if they constitute non-matrimonial property unless there is not sufficient matrimonial capital assets to meet the parties’ respective needs. I recommend you obtain further independent legal advice from a specialist family lawyer.

  58. Hi,my ex husband decided to not pay anymore,he says he refuses to pay.I want to go back to court.What can happen,what can i do,and what can happen in his case.

    1. Thank you for your query. Without knowing the background to your case it is very difficult to advise you. In any event we cannot provide bespoke advice on this forum. If there is a court order in place which provides for spousal maintenance to be paid to you, you are able to make an application to enforce this order. Anyone paying under a court order should not unilaterally stop paying unless by agreement or further order of the court. If your former husband is unable to afford to pay you he should make an application to the court to either vary the order or have it dismissed. I would recommend that you seek legal advice quickly from a lawyer who is a member of Resolution.

  59. Hi, just some advice really needed….
    Have a court order in respect to my former wife (divorced etc 2013)… the flowing has just been completed by both parties, extract follows…
    1. The Respondent forthwith do transfer to the Applicant his entire estate and interest in the former matrimonial home subject to the said mortgage. The costs of the transfer are to be borne in equal shares by the parties

    As mentioned this is now completed but the order states later on that i must continue to pay periodical payments to the Applicant, Children are 24 & 22 so they do not come into the equation, if she now has the ability to pay for the mortgage herself, ( i cannot afford a mortgage and live in rented accommodation) it’s just seems more than reasonable that it may be possible to apply for a termination of this order via the local County Court as we have now have no financial bonds anymore with my ex and she is the sole owner of the former property & contents and is obviously in a better monetary situation them myself

    thanks for any advice.

    1. Thank you for your comment Mark. We would need to look at the order in its entirety and indeed understand the background of the case before we could advise you further. Also please bear in mind that we cannot give bespoke advice on this forum. I have written a recent blog about the circumstances in which spousal maintenance may be varied and you may find this a helpful read. As you will have read your former wife’s needs and your wherewithal to pay will need to be carefully analysed as well as other relevant circumstances. Varying a maintenance order can be difficult particularly one that hasn’t been around very long and so I would certainly recommend in the first instance that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer and also consider other options such as mediation or collaborative practice to open up the discussions with your former wife. If you had legal representation during the previous proceedings it may well be prudent to speak to them first.

  60. What if man earns not enough – just enoigh to survive ?
    If man has no extra money, only a second hand car…..what and how he would spare money for woman ?

    1. Thank you for your comment. As you will have read your affordability to pay spousal maintenance as well as your wife’s needs for it will have to be carefully analysed. If, as you say, your income is low and you are only just able to meet your own income needs then any claim for spousal maintenance by your wife would, in my view, be very limited.

  61. I receive a minimal spousal maintenance from my ex- husband since our divorce in 2003. Yesterday I remarried and wish to inform the Court of this and to have the maintenance stopped. Do do I do this?Unfortunately over the years my ex-husband applied to Court to have the Court Order dismissed and the hearings were moved to various different counties so that I could not attend as I was abroad at those times and could not attend. Now I am not sure where to write to. Do I send my letter to the Original Court and hoe p he message gets passed on. ? I want to do this correctly.

    1. Thank you for your comment. There is no obligation to advise the court of your remarriage. However, you are expected to advise your former husband and I would suggest that you contact him as soon as possible. If you are unaware of his whereabouts I would suggest you contact your bank with a view to ‘rejecting’ the payments into your account. Any money received since your remarriage should be returned to your former husband. I hope this helps.

  62. Hi
    Does the spousal maintenance still apply if someone has had a nikkah in this country but never had a civil ceremony. If you don’t have children and have a property together.
    Your husband has left, is still paying half of the mortgage however nothings towards home insurance and on-going maintenance costs for the property.
    Also how do you calculate a buy out figure?

    1. Dear Sarah. As I understand it, a Nikah ceremony in itself does not create a legally recognised marriage unless there has been a civil ceremony as well. Therefore you and your partner will be classed as a non-married couple in English law. You will not have the same protection in law as you would have done had there been a civil ceremony. The law in relation to unmarried couples is complex and I would advise you to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

  63. A friend found his girlfriend and mother of his two children in bed with another woman. He is now renting elsewhere. However she is demanding 20% of his earnings and rent to be paid, is this correct?

    1. Thank you for your comment. We are unable to advise on specific circumstances. However, what I can say is that the girlfriend’s behaviour will not have any impact on the financial claims she may have against your friend, her former partner. Any financial claims against him are likely to be fairly limited in view of the fact they were not married. As they have children the ‘non resident’ parent (your friend) will have a liability for child support and I would suggest he reviews his liability here. As to whether he should be paying her rent is a separate issue and one that he should seek legal advice upon.

  64. My husband stopped working as a recruitment consultant due to ‘stress’ back in 2000 (although he has had no medical diagnosis) and has not worked since and never claimed benefit. I have worked full time supporting him and our 3 children financially. He is emotionally abusive to my youngest 13 year son but has convinced my son that if we separated, he would stay with my husband. Although I don’t want to leave my son with this unstable man who drinks excessively and hoards to such an extent it is hard to move around, life at home has become so unbearable it is my only option. My question is if I allow him to stay in our 6 bedroom house with our son (our older daughters have left home), pay the mortgage and all the essential bills do I have to pay my husband maintenance? If yes, will he be forced to be medically assessed as to why he can’t work?

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read our post and responding. I feel it’s essential for you to get advice as to options, outcome, support etc as soon as you can. It seems a complex situation and there is too much to be addressed in this reply. If we can assist please contact our Practice Manager, Miriam Walters on 01273 646905.

  65. after sharing my finance with my ex 50/50 , i have been ordered to pay for spousal maintenance as i earn more, I though after you share things its a clean break…!!
    is this a common thing

    1. Dear Gary. Thank you for your comment. It is a common myth that when couples divide assets equally that spousal maintenance is not payable. As you will have read the income needs and capital needs of both parties have to be considered and just because capital needs can be met does not automatically mean income needs can be met. Your wife’s claim for spousal maintenance will be based on her needs and your ability to pay both of which should have been carefully analysed. Did you have legal representation? Have a look at my blog which deals with circumstances in which spousal maintenance can be varied or changed.

  66. Hi, quick question. We have been advised that we cannot include a Claus in my partners spousal maintenance arrangement with his ex that states payment would be stopped if she cohabits as it will not be guaranteed she will have any share of her new partners income. However we’ve been advised that the fact my partner lives with me will mean he has more spare cash to pay spousal maintenance as he has a share of my income? Is this not a contradicting rule?.. Spousal maintenance seems very unfair in favour of the claiming ex.

    1. Dear Victoria. Thank you for commenting again. I refer to my previous response in March and urge that your partner seek bespoke legal advice as soon as possible on this matter. If we can assist, please do not hesitate to contact our Practice Manager, Miriam, who can arrange for your partner to meet with one of our family law specialists.

  67. i am married and working abroad. we dont have kids and i am planning to work on our annulment soon. my wife is also working here in macau with me but we are not living together, though she insist to move in with me i juat really can’t be with her again. she is threatening me she would have me deported if i dont give her financial support. i am willing to and i am actually giving her. but honestly she’s asking almost half of my salary and i have bills to pay and old parents to support. can she really have me deported back to philippines if i dont give the amouny she asks because i really cant afford it?

    1. It appears that you are from the Philippines and currently living and working in China, as is your wife. We are only able to provide information in respect of the law in England and Wales. You will need to see advice from a family lawyer in China and/or the Philippines in the first instance.

  68. Me and my ex wife seperated over a year ago. At the time we were living in England, she was from Belfast and quickly quit her job and moved back home with our 2 year old daughter at the time. Once she had moved home to N.I I was left to pay for our house and cover all bills, and travel expenses to see our daughter, this covered a period of 6 months before I moved to Belfast myself. Now that we have both agreed to seperation and currently in process of mediation, my ex wife is adamanet that I should still support her as she does not work and I do. Though I pay full CSA for our daughter, she still demands more. What I am wondering is if I am legally required to support her even though it was her decision to quit her job and move away, or would I have a good enough case (with evidence to support) to fight off her demands?

    Many thanks.

    Joe

    1. Dear Joe, thank you for your comment. We cannot advise you in relation to the law in Northern Ireland which is where you, your wife and your daughter are currently residing. I would recommend that you contact a lawyer via The Law Society of Northern Ireland to obtain some advice as soon as possible.

  69. I’ve been separated from my husband of 18 years after I discovered his affair.
    We have one child together who shall be 17 next birthday and he pays child maintenance of £500 pcm
    He has been paying our joint mortgage in this time as I’m out of work due to illness
    Divorce process started and I’ve just applied for the degree absolute.
    We can not sort out and agree on financial parting. Did try mediation but he walked out as things were not going his way ( control freak)
    Formby E has been submitted to both parties solicitors
    Can you advise me what will happen now as my solicitor will only view and advise me on my ex’s form E if I make a £500 payment to her which I do not have.
    Assets include: house (160k remaining on mortgage)
    Pensions with tfrs values of £600k
    Any advise appreciated

    1. Thank you for your post. You should discuss with your lawyer funding options including litigation loans, Legal Services Orders etc. With the value of pensions (it is not clear what the capital assets are) it will be really important to import specialist advice. It must be a really difficult time for you, but please have a dialogue with your lawyers as you will need advice to achieve the best possible outcome.

  70. My other half (husband of 26 years) left just over five weeks ago. Our kids are grown so no problems there. We are selling the marital home, he earns over 3 times my wage (5x depending on overtime) but refuses to pay for anything (on the advice of his lawyer apparently) he has a someone else (won’t admit it to his daughters) would I have a claim for spousal maintenance while the house is being sold?

    1. Dear Linda, thank you for your comment. As you will have read maintenance is based on your needs and your husband’s ability to pay. On the face of it if he is earning 3 x more than you and you are unable to meet your needs/outgoings then you have a higher chance of a successful spousal maintenance claim. However, I would advise you to get some legal advice urgently not just to deal with the maintenance but also your capital claims against each other as I note that you are already selling the family home. There will need to be a discussion as to how the proceeds of the sale are to be divided between you and how your housing needs will be met going forward. Please contact a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible. If you would like us to assist please contact our Practice Manager.

  71. Hi,
    My Mom is considering to divorce my Dad after 26 years of marriage. The marriage has never been good from the start. There’s 4 children in total. All adults. 1 has moved out and on benefits and currently unemployed. She became in debt due to taking out a loan for my Dad although it’s cleared she struggled to keep her job that she had for almost 6-7 years due to stress of paying the loan and from parents so she moved out.
    1 has a mental illness and has been ill for 6-7 years. She has been in and out of hositapl and currently being looked after by my Mom.
    1 works and is able to take care of himself. He doesn’t contribute to taking care of anything in the house.
    My Mom has a mental illness herself which happened after she was made redundant from work after working 10 years with them. But she was apparently ill when she got married too. Since then she’s been taking medication. She’s on employment support allowance. She pays for all the bills at home. She paid for the house maintenance. Also paid for my Dad’s business shop to maintain it, after he resigned his job as they were not willing to give him hours so he could support Mom and 4 of us. The business doesn’t contribute to home expenses. My sibling whose mentally ill gets allowance so she pays for grocery shopping.
    The house rent paid by housing. Mom is considering to apply for careers allowance but she can’t as she is claiming employability. She doesn’t spend the money on herself and sometimes only on us but mainly for the bills for home. The employability allowance she receives covers the bills.
    My Dad has messed up all our lives and my Mom has realised it and wants to move away from him. He doesn’t help much at meetings with my sibling with mental illness with social worker etc. My Mom sits in on every meeting, looks after my sibling s day to day. Dad also took my Mom’s savings of 10,000 to apparently give to shares. My Mom trusted him and gave it thinking she will get the money back. After a lot of arguments my Dad is paying back that amount of 300 a month. My Mom wants to divorce him after he has paid the full amount. He has done a lot of other things in past with all of us. Also he is bank trustee to the sibling with mental illness. Dad has property back home in India where he can choose to live there or sell it to give us each sibling money as he has always taken and never given back. He doesn’t.
    That’s the overall general situation. My Dad has said to Mom if she asks for divorce she will have to pay him money. Is this true? What do you suggest?
    Thank you.

    1. Dear Amrita, thank you for your comment. I can see that there is a lot of background and history to your parent’s situation. It is impossible for us to advise on all the issues you have raised within this forum. Your mother may find our factsheets helpful as a starting point. My strong advice would be for your mother to seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer local to you as soon as possible.

  72. Dear Lisa, my case is a financial settlement agreed in Court where the share of pensions and shares held is agreed and acceptable, the house is signed to the wife which enables her to buy a £300,000 house for her and children (one aged 12 the other going to university in September – CSA already in place), then the house sells for £40,000 more than expected so she has all of this as well, then the ex wife granted spousal maintenance due to going back to college to get a teaching degree and having differing amounts agreed for the next 3 years. This was accepted. However she now has inherited or been gifted enough money to buy a £500,000 house with no mortgage so must have received £160,000 to £200,000, less than 6 months after the order was made. Am I able to have the spousal maintenance amount set aside or cancelled as I feel she either knew she would get this money and mislead the Court, or if not, it is a significant amount that the judge could have said she could use for living expenses as well as being put towards the new house ?

    1. Dear Nick. Thank you for your post. It sounds as though it has been a very challenging period for you. Much will depend upon the wording of the order and it will also depend on what was disclosed at the time the original order was made. If monies were available to her in the not too distant future and she was aware of this then, as a resource, that is something that should have been disclosed. It’s relevance would have been considered as part of the need argument she appears to have run. I have no sense from your post what you received but if your wife received a greater share of the asset base to meet her needs then the availability of that money may have had an impact. Without wishing to duck the issue I think you should go back to original solicitors to check what was disclosed at the time, what questions were asked and so forth. The inheritance would not be used to meet general living costs but could have been used to fund the property if it were known that that money was going to be available to her. That will be a question of fact. Do you know when the person died? To receive the money so quickly does not make sense as usually there is a six-month delay from the grant of probate before distributing the state to avoid potential claims against the estate by others who may not have been provided for in the will. I think you need to check with your original solicitors or in the alternative, share the order and the relevant disclosure at the time with a Resolution lawyer with a view to obtaining advice as to your position and the potential to make an application to vary the ongoing maintenance commitment. If you would like us to assist please contact Miriam, our practice manager. I hope this helps.

  73. My daughters ex husband has been pushing for her to remortgage the house so he can have his share !! She finally agreed and paid the fees, but now he is pulling out as he thinks he should have more money. He ha said he will wait until the youngest is 18 – in 5 years time. My question is, can she be forced to do this once she reaches 18 if she is still in full time education. ?

    1. Dear Linda. Thank you for reading the post and for your enquiry. It is not clear what stage your daughter has reached with regard to financial issues involving her former husband. For example, is there already an order in force or are they still trying to negotiate terms? It would be impossible for us to advise in detail without having all the relevant information. I would suggest that your daughter sees a solicitor to get some initial advice. I would suggest she should consult a member of Resolution. They will adopt a non-confrontational and constructive approach to try to resolve matters. I’m sorry we cannot be of more help but it is really important for your daughter to have a full appraisal of her situation.

  74. How do I apply for a spousal maintenance order without using a solicitor. I’m only entitled to minimal legal aid and mediation broke down after one session, my husband refused to carry on.and is insisting I put the house up for sale to get his name off the mortgage. However this would be making me homeless due to the lack of equity in the property. There is 9 years left on the mortgage,I pay my half of £43/week and now I am left on disability benefits I can see no reason why he who earns £360 a week (take home ) shouldn’t help me and keep a stake in the property. Any advice would be welcome

    1. Dear Patricia. Thank you for reading the blog and for your comment. From what you have said I would suggest that you will need to address all financial issues resulting from your separation from your husband, not just spousal maintenance although that of course will need to be given very careful consideration. If you contact your local family court [https://courttribunalfinder.service.gov.uk/search/] they will be able to provide you with some information and forms to enable you to make the relevant application. You will need to file a Form A – “Notice of [intention to proceed with] an application for a financial order”. Before doing so divorce proceedings will need to have been commenced already or you can commence them at the same time as your financial application. You will also need the mediator to sign the application to confirm that you have attended a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) You may find our financial factsheet helpful.

  75. My elderly mother’s second husband Is now in a care home. Her husbands adult children, in an effort to maximise any future inheritance for themselves, are suggesting there is no money to pay the rent and bills on my mother and her husbands home. My mother has not much more than the state pension while he husband has substantial pensions and assets. My mother has been caring for him for several years and they are still married. What would you advise please?

    1. Dear Helen, thank you for your question. Spousal maintenance is only relevant to couples who are divorcing which does not appear to be the case for your mother and her husband. I would suggest that you contact Age Concern or Citizens Advice who should be able to assist you further.

  76. Hello, please can you advise me I have been getting spousal maintenance since 200, the court order stated I would receive this amount unless I remarry or cohabit that I have not. When I was at court in 2001 my final agreement was for my ex-husband to have my inheritance of £120,000 and he was to pay me £1400 per month for spousal and child maintenance combined. There were 3 children in the child maintenance order agreed in 2001. In 2013 my ex husband took me back to court over maintenance payment, unfortunately the judge sided with my ex husband and the order now states, for my self to receive child maintenance until the youngest is out of full time education, and then the spousal maintenance will have to be re accessed depending if my ex husband takes me back to court. My youngest daughter will leave full time education 2018. My concern is will I still be entitled to spousal maintenance as the last court appearance put me in debt with credit cards for court fee’s ect. His salary is £85000 gross mine £23000 gross. Would I be able to continue with my spousal maintenance or would I have a good chance if I went to court about this. If I did return to court would I be able to just have a Barrister represent me. In honesty would I just be wise ending my spousal maintenance when my youngest finishes her A levels. Kind Regards Vanessa

    1. Thank you for your post. It would be unwise of us to offer advice without knowing the full facts and as such, we would urge you to speak to a solicitor (and we recommend you contact a solicitor who is a member of Resolution).

      Maintenance, in general terms is based on need and ability to pay. You can go direct to a barrister for representation at a hearing or for advice. To be able to make an informed decision, the lawyer you see will need to look at the order and consider the case in detail. It is not possible for us to give specific advice on individual cases, as I’m sure you will appreciate.

  77. To what extent is the spousal maintenance to the wife reduced if she intentionally got pregnant through deception by secretly stopping the contraceptive pill, with her admitted intention of trapping the husband in the relationship, even though he wanted a divorce; and he was not aware of her intentions. And when the pregnancy was eventually revealed, he requested a termination & she refused.

    1. Dear Hassan, thank you for reading my blog. I’m afraid the issues that you raise would not have any impact on any claim for spousal or child maintenance. The court will look at the best interest of the children irrespective of how or under what circumstances they were conceived.

  78. Hello – My hubby had suddenly asked for a divorce 3 weeks ago . We have been married for 12+ years and have known each other for 16 years .We have a 10 year old son together who goes to private school . He is a Dutch national and I am an Indian who holds a British passport . Initially he asked for Divorce but realising he will have to pay a lot to us ,he now says he will just walk out and continue to support us till I get a job !!

    I used to work as a S/w consultant earning around 60K when he suggested I quit my job to look after our son . Now after 8+ years ,he earns in excess of 100K while I have been a housewife looking after his needs and our little boy . He has strayed in our wedding twice before ,once in 2014 and another time in 2015 . Each time he has asked for forgiveness and I have foolishly taken him back thinking he really has changed .This time he claims there is no woman (although I found out one!!) ,says he does not want a divorce ,but will move out and support us … Because I want everything to be legally done he has become very abusive towards me , has pushed my son , hurt me very badly with his words and is becoming very aggressive with me calling me disgusting names ,asking me to slit my wrists or jump out of our flat etc.He is also threatening to tell my old Mother in India that he is leaving me so she will be laughed at by relatives( they all advised her against me marrying a foreigner ).He says she will either die of heart attack due to shock or will commit suicide due to shame ….

    During the period I have not been working , he has paid me 500 £ most months and has put some direct debits of utility bills on my account . I barely have anything for myself as most of it is spent on extra curricular activities for my son ,groceries ( as he forgets most things and I have to cook daily for him !!) .During during the height of his affair me and my son were walking around in torn clothes although he buys himself the most expensive clothes and accessories . He has been taking steroids and gym supplements for a while now and refuses to seek help for his daily drinking recently ..its a very scary situation for my little boy whose very world starts and begins with this monster of a man .He cannot understand why happy laughing Papa has suddenly become so cruel 🙁

    So the above being my case ,can you please let me know if I am eligible for spousal maintenance till such time I get myself a new job ? He is also threatening to resign his job and run to Holland .What will happen then ? I urgently need advise on how to proceed so I can approach solicitors etc to start the procedure .

    1. Thank you for your comment and for reading my blog. As you will have read we cannot advise on specific cases within this forum. However, from the information you have given I would suggest that spousal maintenance is definitely something that will need to be considered but can only be done if you are divorcing. Any claim for spousal maintenance will be based on the needs of you and your son and your husband’s ability to pay. Other matters such as housing for you and your son will also need to be addressed. I recommend that you get some advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible.

  79. I am heading into mediation over the next few weeks, I am completely comfortable with child maintenance but struggle with spousal maintenance. My soon to be ex is a qualified medical doctor but never registered to practice and decided to go back to uni to study something else. We have been married 9 years for the first 4 she was trying to get work as a dr and for the remaining 5 I have been the primary career of our daughter as she has focused on studies returning to uni. With studies complete and having financially supported and done the majority of looking after our daughter we are now divorcing. She still doesn’t have a job and is looking to study further am I expected to support this lifestyle Indefiantly ? When we married it was agreed we would both work She has never although with all her qualifications she should be able to earn very similar to me. Should I prepare for an amount for spousal maintenance.

    1. Thanks for looking at our post and responding. Rarely can these issue be looked at in isolation so I think the best way forward is to get advice on all issues from a family lawyer who is a member of Resolution. Have a look at the legislation http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1973/18/section/25

      The pre-amble to S.25 is the court’s first consideration. You will see what s25(2)(a) says and this will be relevant in your case as will be the aim of maintenance which is to assist the receiving party to adjust to the end of the marriage without undue financial hardship.

      I hope that helps.

  80. My husband of 31 years has never worked. He has lived off my private capital (from inheritance and family gifts) the entire time. I have not worked due to being chronically ill all my adult life. I own the house outright with no mortgage. We have two teenage kids.

    If we divorce and I take 100% responsibility for the kids financially and have them live with me, would I have to split ‘my’ capital and assets 50/50 with my husband? He has a small income from the rental of another house he joint owns (partly bought by me), plus some capital from gifts in the past from me. I doubt he could get a job now and has health issues of his own – though not ones which would stop him working part-time. He has actively shared in the child-care/running of the household.

    I understand you cannot give personal advice but I’m seeking a general idea about splitting of capital/assets when neither party has worked, house is in one person’s name, couple have individual financial accounts etc. I have always paid all bills etc.

    Many thanks for your help.

    1. Dear Felicity. Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. As you say we are unable to give advice on specific circumstances within this forum. You have a number of important issues to address which include how capital and income are to be dealt with and whether pre-marital assets should be taken into account and indeed whether you have made a greater contribution to the finances and if so whether that should be taken into account when deciding how assets should be divided. The aim of the court is to achieve fairness. The court has to consider an equal division of assets built up during the marriage (unless the marriage was of a short duration) or the assets are insufficient to satisfy capital needs, and in particular, rehousing. A key factor will be the needs (especially the housing needs) of you, your husband and your son which often overrides any possibility of a simple, equal division of assets. You may find our factsheet on “Settling Financial Issues Following Divorce” helpful. I have also written blogs on ‘contributions‘ and ‘needs and ring-fencing‘ which may also help. I would recommend that you get some early advice from a Resolution lawyer. If we can assist please contact our practice manager, Miriam.

  81. Dear Lisa,
    I have been married for five years. It has been a very difficult relationship. I have tried separation couple of times and left the house. Based on the advise of friends and family, i decided to give another chance and went back. It was still not working out and finally i have left the family house and sharing a room in rented accommodation. My wife don’t want the divorce so i am stuck in this relationship. When we bought our house five years ago, she was working at that time so it was taken in joint names. Then after some time, she left her job and i have been paying all the bills and expenses including the mortgage. Since i am separated now and i don’t know how long the divorce procedures will last, i would like to sell the house and split the share of equity between us. How can i sell the property is she is not accepting the divorce and not allowing to sell the house. My expenses have already gone up and i am finding it quite difficult to pay all the bills.

    1. Dear Chris. Thank you for your comment. You may find our factsheet about divorce helpful where you will find details on how to commence divorce proceedings. A divorce is very often able to proceed even in circumstances where one party is resistant. The divorce is more often than not a paperwork exercise but must be dealt with through a family court. Depending on which court deals with the divorce it can take 4-6 months to finalise. Similarly you have the option of making an application for a Financial Remedy Order on the basis that you would like to sell the property – you can do this once divorce proceedings are up and running. Again our factsheet on financial matters may assist. The court will need to consider the needs of any children you have. In the meantime I would suggest that you and your wife consider alternative options to discuss the financial issues as court proceedings to deal with these matters should be your last resort if possible. I would recommend that you invite your wife to attend Mediation in the first instance. A mediator local to you can be found on the Resolution web site.

  82. I’m hoping you may be able to enlighten me if I may have a claim for SP.
    My now ex husband walked out on me March 2015 after 18 years of marriage as he had been having an affair for 18 months.
    We have one son who was 14 when his father lefted.
    He has an well paid employment as did I until 9 years ago when I became ill- since then I have been dependent on my ex.
    Since leaving he has continued to pay our joint mortgage and pay me maintenance for our son.
    I personally have not received any payment from him and have been living of benefits. We have since divorced and are trying mediation to settle finances. He is looking to keep his 500k pension and leave me the house that still has a 160k mortgage on it. I’ve tried to explain that I will not get a mortgage to take him off the existing mortgage but no will not listen. Will I be able to claim spousal maintenance from him to pay the mortgage so that I can have the property put into my name ?
    All I’m wanting is to be able to stay in my home as both myself and my boy have already suffered enough. Any info would be appreciated.

    1. Dear Faye. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and for commenting. As you will have read any claim by you for spousal maintenance will be based on your needs and your husband’s ability to pay. On the face of it I would suggest that you do have a claim for spousal maintenance as well as child maintenance. Whether the mortgage company will consent to you taking over the mortgage on the basis that you are receiving maintenance from your husband is a different issue and is something that you would need to speak to the mortgage company about. Mediation is a good starting point to discuss all of these issues. I would, however, suggest that you get some independent legal advice as well so that you understand not just the spousal maintenance element of your case but also what your capital needs are (and those of your son) and any possible pension claims you may have. Please refer to the Resolution web site to find a family lawyer in your area.

  83. I married my husband in 2012 when we were both 64. He brought no assets or income to the marriage as he had been surviving on pension credit. I had worked all my life and own a house worth 550k. I also have a pension of 2000k a month and savings of 100 I built up so I could support my own care in old age. He has had affairs and I want a divorce but will I have to support him.

    1. Thanks for your comment Diane. In determining whether it is appropriate for you to financially support your husband following your separation, the court will take into consideration a number of factors including your respective ages, health, length of your marriage, income including earning capacity and other resources. If you were to divorce now, your marriage would be considered short. The fact you are both retired and in receipt of pension income only will be highly relevant. Your respective capital assets, particularly those owned in your sole names prior to the marriage, will not be taken into consideration when assessing your husband’s spousal maintenance claims against you. As you will have read your husband’s needs, and yours of course, will need to be carefully analysed. Your husband may be entitled to some support from you if he can show that he ‘needs’ it and that it is affordable for you. I would recommend getting some early advice from a Resolution lawyer both in respect of the maintenance and any capital claims you may have against each other.

    2. Thank you so much for your reply. All my assets are in my sole name and were all acquired before my marriage so it is a relief to know they are safe from any claim. My husband is only in receipt of a state pension of 330 a month so it looks like I will have to provide some support to him. He has nothing and has nowhere to go. Would he be able to get any help in finding alternative housing?

    3. Just to be clear Diane, your capital assets including those owned by you prior to your marriage will not be taken into consideration when assessing your husband’s maintenance claims. However, they may be taken into consideration when assessing any separate capital claims your husband may make, which could include some provision for re-housing. You could argue that assets owned by you in your sole legal name prior to your marriage are non-matrimonial property which should be excluded from consideration altogether, however this argument rarely succeeds in relation to property you have lived in together as husband and wife, even if this property is held in your sole legal name and was pre-owned by you. I strongly recommend you obtain some legal advice from a specialist family lawyer.

  84. my daughter was divorced earlier this year with a financial settlement of £5K. She is bringing up their two children with just his child maintenance payments of £200 monthly. She claims benefits and works as much as she can within school hours. She manages financially so long as we “top up” her monthly income. Her ex will not pay anything for the children,s uniforms or out of school activities etc. Can she claim this spousal maintenance, even though she had this settlement. He has his own business and says he dosn’t earn enough to pay her any more than he does, although he can afford another woman, new car and holidays.

    1. Thank you for your comment Sue. Much depends on whether, at the time of your daughter’s divorce, she formalised the financial settlement in a legally binding Consent Order and in particular whether there was a ‘clean break’ of all capital and income claims. If your daughter and her ex husband never formally documented their financial settlement, providing that your daughter has not since re-married, she will be able to make an application to the court for financial orders including spousal maintenance. However, as you will have read this will be assessed on your daughter’s ‘needs’ and her former husband’s ability to pay. There would need to be a very careful analysis of the income and needs of both your daughter and her former husband. I recommend that she should obtain further legal advice from a specialist Resolution family lawyer who will be able to provide her with more information on the specifics of her circumstances.

  85. Hello Gemma,

    Thank you for all this information. I left my husband in March during to worsening emotional abuse and his worsening alcohol problems, and we have a 1 year old son. I moved back to my parent’s house with my son as he refused to move out, but still paid half the mortgage as well as paying board to my parents. He also kept the car. The house sold a few weeks ago and we managed to agree how to split the profits. I know would like a clean break order, and he has previously agreed to this. However I’m nervous about the financial disclosure. I believe he wasn’t always honest with me and had got into debt. I have been saving every penny I can since I left him as I aim to save a deposit for a house ASAP. He has sInce moved in to rented property. I had £7000 from the house sale and just over £2000 in other savings. If his money from the house was eaten up by his debt, and he decided to make a claim.against me, could he take my savings? We have been married for 3 years and our salaries are similar although I work part time at present due to having a youngood child.

    1. Thank you for your comment Hayley. I would strongly suggest you consider getting legal advice. In particular I think you need advice as to whether a clean break is appropriate in your circumstances given the age of your son and that it appears you are primarily caring for him. Also, whether your husband would be able to make further claims against the assets you have would depend upon the specific circumstances of your case. Finally, with regard to your concern as to financial disclosure, if you and your husband have reached an agreement then you do not need to provide the same level of financial disclosure that you would be required to do if you were within contested court proceedings. Nevertheless, there is a minimal level of financial disclosure which you will have to provide if you wish to file a consent order with the court. My view is that there is no substitution for full and frank financial disclosure as without this it is impossible to be able to properly advise upon any agreement that may be reached.

  86. My husband & I are divorcing after 13 years. A second marriage for both of us and no children between us. I earn £60k per year and my husband £30k. He’s claiming £25k from me for disparity of earnings saying he gave up his career (as a painter & decorator) to maintain the home. He’s always worked full time but is basically lazy and took easy jobs leaving me to pay all the mortgage and bills. Do you think he stands a chance of getting this payment? We have a flat between us which I’ve offered to give him but he wants this as well as his final salary pension and the £25k. I think he’s being totally unreasonable. The marital home has been sold and proceeds divided as per the declaration of Trust. I got more as I put more deposit into the house but both received 50% of the residual profit. As a result he has £107k in the bank. My share I have invested in a house with my new partner. Can he touch this? Or could a judge put a charge on the house should it be sold in his favour even though it’s in joint names with my new partner.

    1. Dear Karen, thank you for your comment. As you will have read the issue of spousal maintenance is very specific to each individual set of circumstances. Your husband will be expected to maximise his own earning capacity. Other factors such as the fact that you do not have children, your respective ages, the length of your marriage and your standard of living will also be relevant. Your husband’s needs will be carefully analysed. With regard to your other queries regarding ‘capital’ it is impossible for me to comment without knowing the full facts. I would suggest that you get some initial advice from a Resolution lawyer and perhaps suggest that you and your husband attend mediation with a view to exploring financial issues. You may also find our factsheets helpful.

  87. Will you explain what minimum spousal maintenance means, as I am reluctant to agree to this in my FDR hearing, as my ex-wife has a history of not holding down jobs, and I do not want to give her an easy escape route. I am currently not being represented legally as I cannot afford a solicitor, which is frustrating, so have to appear in person.

    1. Dear Steve, thank you for your comment. ‘Minimum spousal maintenance’ is not a legal term and I can therefore only assume you are referring to ‘nominal spousal maintenance’. This means that a small sum such as £1 per annum is paid and there is no clean break of future claims. This could be for a period of time or for your joint lives. The purpose of a nominal spousal maintenance order is to operate as a safety net for the receiving party in case he or she needs to ask for substantive maintenance from the other party in the future. Nominal maintenance orders are commonly used where there are children and where it would not be right to leave the parent with the primary care of the children without a financial safety net in the event of a change in circumstances e.g. redundancy, disability etc. I cannot advise you without knowing the full facts but I would certainly recommend that you get some advice from a Resolution lawyer before any court hearings. You may also be able to instruct a Barrister to represent you at the hearings for a fixed fee through the Public Access scheme (where you instruct a Barrister directly rather than going through a solicitor). I hope this helps.

  88. my sister & brother in law are getting divorced after 25 years marriage he left as he is gay. sister and me are very close. my sister gave up her career & worked in a no prospects job part time until children were 10 then got full time job again no prospects. their 3 children are now over 18. my brother in law insisted on getting qualified when children were young as he wanted career. my sister paid deposit for fist house as my brother in law had no savings. brother in law had outstanding amounts on a credit card also. brother in law now earns £70000, bought cars on loans during marriage, got loans for for improvements to house & instead spent all money on renting property after moving out, he has recently inherited over £50,000. my sister has recently been dismissed from work due to ill health brought on by him leaving & now left with being unable to work or drive . brother in law is wanting 50/50 on everything and loans being split 50/50, is insisting on house being sold. mortgage is over half value of house. house is worth around £250,000. my sister is unable to get a property as she cannot get mortgage & will have around £40,000 from equity in house. my sister has been turned down for all benefits. my sister did not receive payout from her employer even though working for same employers for over 30 years. is someone able to explain how this is fair? thank you very much.

    1. Thank you for reading the blog and for commenting. However, your question is not directly related to the issue of spousal maintenance. You have raised a number of issues which need to be addressed. All of the points you raise are factors that need to be considered in more detail. I would strongly advise your sister to seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible.

  89. I’m in the process of trying to sort out financial matters with my now ex husband. His proposal is that I remain in the family home until July 2018 when he takes early retirement then for the property to be sold. I’m to keep any equity ( current amount approx £150k) and he will pay me £50k but keep hold of his pension which had a value of £550k as per the form E. He pays maintenance for our son at £500 pm which will stop may 2018. I receive no money from him even those I was fully dependent on him. Please advise. There will not be enough equity firm me to purchase a home for me and my son ( we are in Essex) thank you

    1. Dear Marie. Thank you for reading the blog and commenting. You have a number of issues that will need to be addressed which I can’t possibly advise on within this forum. Our factsheet on financial matters may assist. The court will need to consider the needs of you both and any children you have both in terms of capital (property) and income. Your positions on retirement will also need to be considered carefully. I would suggest that you get some advice as soon as possible. Property and/or pension issues can be complex and so it is important that you get some independent advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible. I would also recommend that you invite your husband to attend Mediation in the first instance. A mediator local to you can be found on the Resolution web site.

  90. Hi,
    I am currently still married to my husband, we had been together 6 years but only married for 6 months when he had an affair and left me with our 4 year old daughter.
    I work part time on a low income of £14,000, he earns over £45,000.
    My standard of living has dropped and I am now paying the rent of the house on my own.
    He does pay child maintenance, would it be unreasonable for him to pay spousal maintenance?

    1. Thank you for your comment. As you will have read your claim for spousal maintenance will be based on your ‘needs’. Given the disparity in your incomes on the face of it spousal maintenance is certainly something that will need to be addressed by you. Your husband’s ability to pay will also have to be considered as will the earning capacities of each of you now and in the future. I would recommend that you get seek assistance from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible.

  91. Hi.. My husband was having affair. We have been separated for 2 years… He is now living wirh her.. He bought a house.. Took redundancy. We have a 7 year old son which he pays £100 a month for. I gave up a high paid job to have son and am now working for a lot less money. He has since set up his own business which he says is a low earner.. He got £45000 redundancy… When he left had £50000 in bank which was ours but in his name. The house is in my name only as was mine before we met. Im struggling can i get spousal maintenance

    1. Thank you for your post. I think you need to get urgent advice from a family lawyer and recommend you looking to meet with a Resolution member. Spousal maintenance will be based on your needs and your husband’s ability to pay and these issues will need to be explored. You also need advice to protect your capital position.

  92. Hello,
    I was awarded joint lives maintenance in 2006. I had been a wife, mother and GPs wife for 25 years, never working formally. In 2016 my ex husband indicated he wanted to retire, it was agreed that I would take the pension awarded to me early in 2018 , taking quite a loss. It was subject to a court order. Now, my Ex tells me I have until 31/1016 to decide on a new lump sum offer. The offer is not that far off of what I would have got anyway, but I just feel I’m being pushed and cornered. It is important to me as it affects the rest of my life.

    1. Dear Heather, thank you for your comment. There is clearly some history to your matter which will need to be reviewed carefully. We are unable to provide advice on specific cases within this forum. Indeed it would be dangerous for us to do so. I would strongly recommend that you seek independent legal advice as soon as possible from a Resolution lawyer.

  93. Hi Lisa,
    I am currently going through divorce proceedings after my wife issued the petition in August, and its due to go to court in November. We still have finance issues to do with household goods, as she is in the rented property with all the goods. My question is if she is dismissed from work for breaking the law, as she may well be after the divorce is agreed but not the finance side, could her new circumstances effect that finance proceedings and possibly lead to me paying money because she is unemployed, as at the moment we have very similar salaries? PS We have no children. Thanks

    1. Dear Tom, thank you for your comment. As you will have read your wife’s claim for maintenance will be based on her needs and your ability to pay. Other factors such as whether both parties are maximising their earning capacities and, of course, the specific circumstances of your wife’s position will also need to be taken into account. Given that you do not have any children and that your current salaries are very similar I would suggest that a claim for maintenance by your wife is unlikely to be successful. That is not to say it’s impossible. My instinct is you need to move the financial side on, sooner rather than later.

  94. Hi, my husband committed adultery 5 years ago, but stayed in our marital home as neither of us could afford to move out. The marriage ended as soon as I found out about his affair, our children were 16 and 12 at the time. I have suffered terribly during those 5 years and so have my children, especially my daughter. They are now 22 and 19 and I have moved out of the marital home and in with my new partner in rented accommodation. The children want to stay in the marital home and are there with their father. His company has just been taken over by a big concern and he has paid the mortgage off with a lump sum. When I moved out, he put an alarm in the house and did not tell me. I still haven’t got all my belongings from the house, clothes etc and have taken no furniture or anything else. We wont sell the house as long as the children are happy to live there, I have asked him to buy me out but he will not. Could I claim for spousal maintenance? He has always been the biggest wage earner and I looked after the kids and house, whilst working part time. I still work part time, but suspect he has received a substantial lump sum from his business takeover. I cannot afford a divorce solicitor at the moment and feel lost as to what to do? I’ve taken nothing from the house except clothes and am struggling to pay bills and rent
    What are my options please?

    1. Thank you for you comment Debbie. Capital and income are dealt with differently. With regards to the former matrimonial home, if you are a joint legal owner you have a continued right to access the property to retrieve your personal belongings. The only way you are able to ‘force’ your husband to sell and/or pay you a lump sum equivalent to your interest in the property is to make an application to Court. Although your children continue to reside there, they are both over the age of 18, therefore they are no longer the first consideration of the court when determining whether the property should be sold. In terms of any claim that you may have against your husband for maintenance, this is dependant on an assessment of your needs. The court will consider your own income measured against your monthly expenses and whether it is affordable for your husband to pay. The fact you are cohabiting with your new partner may also be relevant. I suggest you consider an alternative form of dispute resolution, such as mediation, with your husband as a way of resolving financial matters.

  95. Hi I’ve been married for 16 years I’ve recently told my wife I’m not in love with her anymore there is no foul play involved.
    Can we still get a divorce as she’s been told she can’t divorce if I haven’t beat her up or committed adultery is this true also is spousal maintenaceknly paid if you divorce or can it be paid if we just separate.

    1. Dear Mark, thank you for your comment. I refer you to our page and factsheet which deals with the divorce process. You will find details of the facts that can be relied upon in divorce proceedings. I would recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer.

  96. Hi,

    I have recently separated from my wife of 24 years. Our two children ( 20 & 22) have left home. I was the main wage for the house. We have no mortgage and both could get a reasonable house with no mortgage if shared 50/50. My wife inherited a 6 figure sum, which is now a mid 5 figure sum. My question is; if this money is legally hers would it be taken into consideration if she seeks spousal maintenance?

    1. Thank you for your post. I would suggest that you get advice from a Resolution lawyer so all the facts and dates can be understood. Without all the information it would be unwise to express a view.

  97. My wife and I split 8 years ago. All this time I have been paying half the mortgage and child support. It has now come to a time that I want the house sold or she buys me out . However she is dragging her heels and my lawyer has still not heard from her representatives about what she wants to do. It is of course in her interest to drag this on as I am paying the mortgage with the payments she receives from me. My circumstances have now changed as my current partner has had enough of me paying money out to a house that I do not live in and has told me to leave ( it is her house). I have been contacting my lawyer urging them to keep hassling my ex wife to get a response but so far nothing is happening. As I now need extra money I am contemplating stopping paying half the mortgage but carrying on paying for my daughter who is 16 in January. I was going to put the money in a savings account so it would be there when the building society came looking for it . I am at my wits end with this , I pay money out for her to sit in our old marital home but now I want and need the house sold or bought out she sits doing nothing .

    1. Thank you for your comment Grant. The only way you can try and force your wife to sell the house is by issuing an application for financial orders at Court in conjunction with divorce proceedings. If you stop the mortgage repayments which results in mortgage arrears this could lead to the property being repossessed by the lender. You have a legal obligation to pay child maintenance for your daughter. Be mindful that if you do issue a financial application when considering what types of orders to make the first consideration of the Court is the welfare of any minor child. The type of order made will very much depend on the individual circumstances of your case. I recommend you discuss the options with your existing solicitor or consider consulting an alternative Resolution specialist family lawyer. I hope this assists you.

  98. My husband of 3 years left our home without telling me I was blindsided. He has two children from a previous relationship, I was working part time to help him out with the kids while he was at work. Now that I’m asking for spousal support he is claiming that I did not help him out with his children. Should I have my client write a letter stating all the times I couldn’t work because I had to take care of my step children?

    1. Dear Jessica. We cannot comment on specific individual cases. Therefore, I would recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible. I would also suggest you consider alternative forms of dispute resolution such as mediation so that you can open up the discussions with your husband with a view to reaching an amicable solution which will avoid court proceedings if possible.

  99. My daughter was married to a British resident (now citizen). Her husband cleverly but willingly sent her to meet her parents and on return she found that the entry locks to her house were changed by her husband without informing her and thus restricting her entry to the house.and also did not respond to any of her calls leaving her on the streets. He also deprived her of all of her personal belongings including her educational degrees and certificates which were returned after sometimes on the persuaion of some community members. She suffered in the winters resultantly she fell ill and went into depression and was treated for this. Her father supported for her boarding, lodging, and all her needs of livelihood. On regaining her health and some confidence but not knowing the country/city wel she did odd jobs despite being highly qualified. Her husband did not give any spousal maintenance except for a petty amount for three months and that too after many months of locking her out to make her suffer even more. kindly advice if she is supposed to get “spousal maintenance” from when and upto what period of time and any procedure to claim this. The husband had not obtained the “degree absolute” yet. Best Regards.

    1. Dear Nasir, thank you for your comment. It is very difficult to provide guidance without knowing the full facts, dates and figures. There are a number of issues that will need to be addressed and considered such as whether there are divorce proceedings in the UK or elsewhere. I would recommend that your daughter seeks advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible.

  100. i have the £1 maintenance on a consent order because of kids now 7 and 9 which would be void if she remarries, my question is would her marrying another woman be the same or would she get out of it somehow if it did’nt work out.

    1. Dear Justin, thank you for your comment. If your former wife re-marries (whether same sex or otherwise) or enters a civil partnership her maintenance order will cease automatically and cannot be resurrected if that marriage/partnership does not work out (she may then have a maintenance claim against her second husband or new wife/civil partner).

  101. Hello, I am going through a divorce now and will then be legally sorting out the finances. I gave up my career/work entirely, 7 years ago (when our daughter was born) to care for her as she has special needs. I don’t want financial help from him at this stage (he’s a manipulative, controlling individual). I am managing on Carer’s allowance, income support, tax credits, child benefit and DLA. However, I am concerned any financial decisions now will have a grave impact on myself and my daughter when she reaches 16 and child benefit, tax credits etc stop, yet I will need to still care for her and will still be unable to regain employment/my career. Are you able to give any advice on general options I might have? Thank you.

    1. Thank you for reading our blog and posting a comment. In the circumstances of your case, it is really important you get independent advice to look at the position now and going forward. In so far as maintenance for a child is concerned this can be extended beyond a child’s 18 birthday under the legislation and that is something that needs to be given careful consideration. I would recommend that you seek advice as soon as possible. Ongoing support from your spouse may be necessary, although from what you are saying, not particularly desirable.

  102. Great post. Does the fact that the wife has chosen not to work automatically mean that she will be awarded SM? I’ve worked and been the primary carer. She has had a history of mental health issues and chose not to pursue two careers that could have been lucrative for her. I am confused about the amount of money she will be entitled to in a divorce.

    1. Thank you for your comment and your post. Under the legislation, earning capacity is one of the factors the court would take into account both in terms of actual earning capacity and any increase in a party’s earning capacity it would be reasonable to expect a party to acquire. Health is also a relevant factor and may impact on earning capacity. Those two factors need to be explored as do all of the circumstances of the case before you will have any clear understanding what your potential liability may be and we do urge you to get advice.

  103. Hi, you say that when spousal maintenance is ordered that it is in addition to child support ……… I was awarded £400 per month until my 65th birthday or if I remarried, at the time I was receiving £266 CSA and I was told by my solicitor that whilst he was paying CSA he only had to pay the difference to make it up to £400. I could never get my head around this …….. I had been awarded £400 in my own right, so he wasn’t financially supporting his daughter ……… is this right?

    Regards

    Fiona

    1. Dear Fiona. Thank you for your comment. Without seeing the order it is difficult to advise as much will depend on how the order is worded. It sounds as though you may have what is known as a ‘global’ or ‘Segal’ order (but this will need to be carefully checked by a lawyer) which is where any payment for you and your child(ren) is set off pound for pound against any CSA award. I would recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer who will be able to review the terms of your order and advise on the appropriate steps.

  104. Hi I was reading your blog and posts with interest as I have a court order giving joint lives spousal maintenance ie till either of us dies, I remarry or a new consent order is granted. I have chronic health problems and am unable to work as was the case in the last 6 years of my 14 year marriage. This has now been running for 18 months since decree absolute with no problems or acrimony from my ex husband. However, what troubles me – and what I can’t quite believe I didn’t ask my solicitor at the time, I blame the stress in dealing with so many details! – is that it is to be reviewed every 5 years. As opposed to one or other of us seeking a change due to new circumstances which I assume could happen at any time so I have absolutely no idea what in a legal sense this review will entail or how it will come about, who is reviewing and what format it takes.. Can you please tell me if this is a typical inclusion with a maintenance order and anymore information on what I can expect? There is no other detail regarding review stated in the court order except that sentence of a review every 5 years and the conditions of death and remarriage. Is this simply giving my ex husband a chance to ask for my circumstances to be reviewed at that time point ie forcing me to prove my circumstances again? Or something more formal from the Courts? I would very much appreciate any information you can give as at the time I was just desperate to present the best case that would be approved by the court to ensure some income as my ex left me very suddenly and although its still 3 and half years away technically, I am started to get worried as my circumstances remain the same. If this is something typically included then I can cease worrying but all info on joint lives orders I’ve found never mention anything about them being reviewed, simply being open to change if circumstances for either party alter… Many thanks

    1. Thank you for your detailed post. A family lawyer needs to review the wording of the order and review matters generally including why the order was drafted in this particular way. Was your former husband anticipating a change in your or his position?

      Maintenance can be varied if circumstances change. If your position has remained the same, then provided your needs are still broadly the same it’s hard to see how the order could be altered provided your former husband’s position hasn’t altered in a way as to impact on his ability to pay. May I suggest you seek some advice to put your mind at rest – as far as you can – and to review your position. As I’m sure your will appreciate my comments have to be generic and can’t be construed as advice as I don’t know the full facts.

      I hope this helps to some degree but there can be no substitute for speaking to a family specialist. You should think about identifying a family lawyer who is a member of Resolution.

  105. HI! LISA

    MY NAME IS TASHA, I AM 35 YRS OF AGE AND REMARRIED. THE GUY I REMARRIED HAS A CHILD OF 6YRS AND HER MOTHER DOES NOT WORK AND SUPPORT THE CHILD IN ANYWAY. HE PAYS MAINTENANCE FOR THE CHILD EVERY MONTH AND WE DO EXTRA WERE EVER WE CAN, WHETHER ITS CLOTHES, SPENDING MONEY OR ANYTHING SHE NEEDS.

    MY THING IS WE HAVE BOUGHT CLOTHES FOR IN BETWEEN THE YEAR, BIRTHDAY GIFTS, DIWALI CLOTHES AND XMAS CLOTHES AND WHENEVER I GO SHOPPING I WILL BUY SOMETHING FOR HER AND SEND IT FOR HER.

    WE PAID HALF OF HER SCHOOLFEES, BUT THE MOTHER ASKS WHY WE DIDN’T PAY THE FULL AMOUNT, SO I TOLD MY HUSBAND WE SAID WE WILL PAY HALF AND SHE NEEDS TO PAY THE OTHER HALF AND HE NEEDS TO TELL HER THIS, BCZ WE CAN’T BE PAYING FOR EVERYTHING WHICH IS WRONG BCZ THE CHILD IS ALSO HERS..

    PLEASE ADVICE ME AND GUIDE ME..

    THANK YOU

    1. Dear Tasha. Thank you for your comment. I am afraid that I do not have sufficient information to comment upon the particular circumstances of your case. Much will depend on whether there are any Court Orders in place in England in respect of the school fees. I would suggest that your Husband arranges to have a consultation with a Resolution family lawyer so that he can provide full details of his case and can receive informed advice.

  106. I’ve been divorced since July 3rd 2014 and I’m entiled to half the 401k. I can’t seem to get anything accomplished from my attorney. 2 months after the divorce I had a meeting with him to go over some things in our decree including the 401k. Its been another 3 months now and I talked to him just before Thanksgiving; he said he was going to call my ex’s attorney the first thing Monday morning to see what’s going on with the 401k. I’ve called him everyday for the last two weeks now and he won’t return my phone calls. I’m wondering if this is something I can do on my own or if I should just wait until he decides to do what he’s paid to do? I really don’t want to hire another attorney; is something I should worry about? It’s been 5 months and nothings been done since we signed the decree. I feel I’ve waited long enough, but if I’m in no danger of losing my half then I’d feel a bit relieved since it seems like the waiting game isn’t ending any time soon.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Sorry but we are only able to advise on the law of England and Wales.

  107. Hello Lisa i would be very grateful if you can help me out with my problem.
    MY partner and i have been living together for 2 years without being married to each other. we are now separated and she is asking me for £800 per month for the next 8 months on the ground that i never helped her with the housechores. Would she be able to enforce this claims? I’m very stress about this !

    1. Dear Paul. Thank you for your comment. Understandably, this is a very stressful situation for you. Rest assured that your partner cannot make a claim for payments from you on the basis that you have ‘not helped her with the house chores’. Furthermore, please note that in England and Wales spousal maintenance is only payable where the parties have been married. If you have children or own property, however, it is advisable to seek legal advice in respect of any potential claims you may have against one another as soon as possible.

  108. Hi Lisa,
    Many thanks for such an informative blog. I have a quick question regarding SM. My wife and I have recently separated after 31 years of marriage, I would add that it is completely amicable. We sold the family home, and she now owns a property outright with no mortgage, whilst I still have a mortgage. I work full time whilst she is self employed, not earning enough each year to even pay tax, even with an early pension of £600 a month that she receives. I would very much like to pay her SM of perhaps another £600, but would she have to declare it as income and be taxed on it, and would it impact my tax position? I earn approx £66k per annum. I should add that she would just about be able to maintain herself, pay bills etc. without a payment from me, but money would be tight for her.
    If SM is taxable I’m wondering if just gifting her the money is a better option?
    Thanks for your time.

    1. Dear Peter, thank you for your comment. Maintenance payments from a spouse or civil partner are not taxable. I would recommend that you get legal advice to ensure that any financial agreement reached with your wife is reflected in a legally binding document.

  109. please can you help with some info?
    my wife and i are going through a breakup at the moment and she says i will have to pay her maintenance but i have no money, we have been married for twenty five years and have two adult daughters one who will still live with me in the family home that i rent from the council, my wife has never had a full time job since we were married she looked after the children and then she just refused to work when they got older even up to last year when i asked her to get a job to help with the money she just said no she has no desire to work. she has had an affair last year and now has desided she wants to leave but wants me to pay maintenance i earn 450 euro a week and i have to maintain a home for myself and daughter can the judge make me pay for her love nest even though she refuses to work , how can i prove she is not looking for work? and just wants an easy life?
    thank you

    1. Dear Christopher, thank you for your comment. I note you refer to earning euros and so it is unclear whether you are divorcing through the court in England and Wales. If so then the law in this jurisdiction will apply. The court will assess your wife’s needs and your wherewithal to pay maintenance. Other factors such as your wife’s ability to work and earn an income will be considered. However, you should seek comprehensive legal advice from a Resolution lawyer on your situation as a whole. If either you or your wife are not resident in England and Wales you will need to seek advice from a lawyer in that other jurisdiction.

  110. Hi Lisa,

    My husband and I will be getting a divorce as things are not working for us. we’ve been together for 9 years and married for 2 years and we have one property together and no children.

    I earn more and have always earn more ever since we met even though he claims to be a hard worker and I have a feeling that he will be going for SM as he always claims not to have any money.

    I know he will be getting part of my pension, Will I have to pay him SM as well based on the length of marriage?

    1. Thank you for your comment. As you will have read the issue of spousal maintenance is very specific to each individual set of circumstances. In short your husband would be successful in an application for spousal maintenance if the court considers he ‘needs’ it. His ‘needs’ would have to be carefully analysed as needs are often interpreted differently by the respective parties, as would his earning capacity. The length of your marriage is relevant but in your case is likely to be considered an 11 year marriage if there was a seamless move to marriage from cohabitation for the previous 9 years. It would be unusual for there to be spousal maintenance in circumstances where they are no children and the parties are able to meet their outgoings from their own income. The guidance is that an award should only be made by reference to needs, save in exceptional cases. I would recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible to consider your circumstances as a whole.

    2. Hi Lisa,

      Thanks very much for the swift response. The years we have been together is 9 not 11. Years before marriage is 7 and 2 as married couple.

      Thanks very much.

  111. Hi, my husband and I were together 15 years and married for 8 of those years. We have been divorced for 18 months. We have a 5 and 7 year old. We don’t own a house but moved into a rented 4 bedroom house about 5 years because he needed an office to work in. The rent is £1200 a month and up until now he has been paying me £900 per month so that we can continue paying the rent here. The tenancy is due to end in September but he has now said that he is dropping this to £538 which he says is all I am entitled to in child maintenance. I started work again in January after having given up my career 8 years to be a wife and raise our children, but I can only work part time and in term time only and also now have to claim housing and other benefits. However much extra I try to work I am never much better off because money is immediately taken off the benefits I receive. I can’t earn the sort of money I used to before I gave up my career as I would need extensive retraining now. I feel so trapped. I know he earns good money, he has moved in with his fiancé and her two children and is getting married next year which I am sure he is putting money aside to pay for. He forgets that he has an unlimited capacity to earn plus gets commission as well and that he is sharing all his bills now with someone else. With the reduction in the money from him, I won’t be able to afford to live in the house we rent until September but I can’t get out of the tenancy agreement. He doesn’t seem to care where we will end up living, doesn’t realise that claiming benefits particularly housing benefit puts me at an immediate disadvantage with private landlords and doesn’t appear to care that whether I have any ‘spare’ money. I could probably just about afford to pay the rent but will nothing else except some money for food and petrol. My car needs work on it but I now won’t have a penny spare. I would have no money in an emergency and now won’t be able to afford to buy anything for the children, take them anywhere or have any quality of life. Should he not be giving me some spousal maintenance as well?

    1. Dear Georgie, thank you for your comment. I assume that financial matters between you and your former husband were not dealt with or considered at the time of the divorce? It may be that neither of you have had any legal advice on the financial issues. From the information you have provided I would suggest that spousal maintenance does need to be considered carefully and I would recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible.

  112. My husband and I are going through I divorce process. I live abroad with the children and my husband returned to the UK. I was always the main breadwinner but my husband worked a little and didn’t sacrifice anything in terms of caring for the children. He is trying to claim maintenance from me. Every penny I earn is spent on looking after the children, my husband does not pay child maintenance despite me having a court order in the country I live. Will the court even entertain his application? It will cost be money I don’t have to defend this. Thanks

    1. Dear Susie, thank you for your comment. Your situation is complex and not suitable to deal with within this forum. Cross border divorces/separations can create a number of complex legal issues that will need careful consideration by your legal team. I would suggest you speak to a lawyer local to you and also contact Resolution who should be able to assist in finding a suitable lawyer/mediator in the UK.

  113. Hello – thank you for this posting.

    I was married a week short of 29 years during which time I paid my hustbands university fees, student loans, furnished our homes, paid for cars, put in swimming pools, paid for holidays etc. Except for 4 years when my 3 sons were born I have worked, supported myself and contributed equally to our homes and expenses.

    As we are both British citizens, we are now resident in the UK . We were divorced in South Africa and I was granted a court maintenance court order. We both turn 70 this year. I received no part of his provident fund payout at the time nor any other benefits from him ( he had a good accountant and I had none) He was a director at the time and has been employed at this level since moving to the UK in 1999) . Our home was in my name but was heavily mortgaged. I retained this home but had to sell to pay huge hospital bills when my son was critically injured in a motor car accident. Due to the mortgage on the property the sale amount only covered the additional hundreds of thousands of Rands for the hospital costs. After a month and he was out of coma and had been stabilised my critically injured son was then flown to Guys hospital where he was in care for 3 years. My husband paid nothing towards my son’s hospital costs and did not come out to SA (from the UK) to see his son in hospital. My son did spend several months with my ex husband and his then girlfriend when he had been discharged from hospital. He then left his father’s home and moved in with friends and myself in turn.

    I came over to the UK so that I could assist my son (my other 2 sons are also resident in the UK). I have worked solidly since arriving here and am working still. I do not qualify for a government pension here and have none from previous jobs (having used whatever I had to also pay towards the hospital bills) and have no other income than my monthly wage – and £300 a month maintenane from my ex-husband.

    My ex husband has now notified me that he is now retiring and will no longer pay my maintenance after March. I would like to retire too but am unable to do so as I would have no other income. I need that money and it will be critical if for some reason I am unable to work.

    Can my husband simply stop paying me maintenance? What should I do, given my court order is South African?

    He has recently returned from a yacht cruise around New Zealand and islands – Hawaii and then to LA, so cant be experiencing depleted pockets.

    I would appreciate any advice as I am concerned that I may have to leave employment soon and am fearful for my situation.

    1. Dear Alex, thank you for your comment. Your situation raises a number of complex legal and jurisdictional issues which we could not deal with within this forum. I recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible.

  114. my brother got married in the year 2011 and has no child. My sister in law has left her marital house in 2013. My parents and brother tried many times to bring her back but of no use. She is not ready for divorce either. Brother has filed for restoration of conjugal life in the family court in the year 2015. Now she is asking for the maintainance. Is she eligible for that.

    1. Dear Rajni. It appears that your brother and sister in law are not resident in England and Wales as an application for ‘restoration of conjugal life’ is not something that is available in this country. We can only provide broad advice in relation to the law in this jurisdiction. I would advise that your brother seeks advice from a lawyer in his local area.

  115. I am married for 2 years and have a 2 years old child. Divorce is still in progress. my salary is 15k and his 45k. he is already paying child maintenance as child lives with me. We had no property but I have double savings than him but he has good pension fund. Am I entitled to spousal maintenance or any nominal amount till my child is 18 years old? Do I need to pay him part of my savings during financial settlements?

    1. Dear Lucy, thank you for your comment. As you will have read spousal maintenance is based on needs and wherewithal to pay. From the information you have provided I would suggest that spousal maintenance, whether substantive or nominal, should be considered in your case. Your savings and your husband’s pension may form part of the matrimonial assets available for division and so I would recommend that you seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer on your case as a whole as soon as possible.

  116. Can I ask (as I am not interested in receiving spousal maintenance) just an agreed amount for child maintenance and 50% towards the joint mortgage costs. Does the law consider the mortgage liability separate to spousal maintenance or would I have to make a claim for that in order to get the mortgage liability paid?

    1. Dear Louis, thank you for your comment. Mortgage repayments would normally be included in the ‘needs’ when considering spousal maintenance. If your spouse is making payments towards the mortgage I would advise you to have this formalised legally along with any other financial arrangements arising from your separation. It appears you may need to get advice in relation to the finances as a whole and you should seek assistance from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible.

  117. My wife and I are filing a divorce after five years of marriage. And we dont have any children. She earned about 50000 per year and I earned about 80000 per year. The amount we each earn is above our need. There are many cases I read here with wifes not working, but I am not quite sure how that will be split if both of us are working.
    1) I have a lump sum I saved up before the marriage, does that need to be split too?
    2) Do I need to give spousal maintenance given that she is financially independent? The court will consider the difference of income or I give half of what I earn in the future?

    1. Dear John, thank you for your comment. As you will have read spousal maintenance is based on ‘needs’. Part of the analysis of ‘needs’ will include looking at the standard of living you both enjoyed during your marriage. However, it would be unusual for there to be spousal maintenance in circumstances where there are no children, the marriage was relatively short and the parties are able to meet their outgoings from their own income. The guidance is that an award should only be made by reference to needs, save in exceptional cases. I would recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible to consider your circumstances as a whole.

  118. I pay my ex £500 pm . I went thru cms to get a reduction in cms as my earnings are not as they used to be. They made the change and now my ex says she’s taking me to court to get an adjustment to spousal. I’m on a 5 year (extendable ) and 3 years in. She refuses to work saying she can’t because her mum is unwell. My kids are 12 and 10. I have moved in with my partner and actually our outgoing have gone up since we moved in together as her child is special needs and goes to a specialist learning disorder private school. And we have a big mortgage. I Am just about to accept a new job which will give me a guaranteed commission for 4 months and for those 4 months that it may look like I’m making a killing (which will be reflected in her cms next yearly review). Will the court tell her to get a job? Or will they side with her and agree she is still needy and put that payment up? I did ask for a clean break for 70k but she declined and wanted the monthly amount. (Even tho she has to go to court in 2 years to get it extended – how likely is an extension?) he’d solicitor asked for my payslips or they will go to court for more spousal but I’ve declined handing over my payslips as I don’t want her knowing where I work and I’ve already shared them with cms. How long will it take before we go to court – weeks / months ???

    1. Dear Rob, thank you for your comment. The effect of your wife making an application to vary the spousal maintenance order would be that the maintenance claim would be looked at afresh. The court will assess your wife’s needs and your wherewithal to pay maintenance at that stage. Other factors such as your wife’s ability to work and earn an income will be considered as will your change in circumstances. The court would require full and frank financial disclosure from you both. You can ask the court to consider capitalising any maintenance claim. Depending in which area you reside the court process could take 6-12 months. I would recommend that you consider attending Mediation with your former wife as a way of opening up the discussions and negotiations. You should seek comprehensive legal advice from a Resolution lawyer on your situation as a whole as soon as possible.

  119. Does that case a while ago where the judge Ruled against awarding maintenance change spousal maintenance and variations. Will the court now consider not granting it these days ? Doesn’t the law also say mums have to work when a child reaches 7? My kids ate 14 & 12 and my ex won’t work and wants to extend my maintenance (I had to pay it for 3 years in my divorce )

    1. Dear Charles, thank you for your comment. I am not sure to which case you are referring but assume it is Wright v Wright [2015]. As you will have read the court is obliged to consider whether it is possible to achieve a clean break between the parties. Where that is not possible any maintenance should end as soon as it is just and reasonable. Any award should only be made by reference to needs and wherewithal to pay. Your former wife’s circumstances, needs and earning ability/income will need to be carefully analysed and any formal application to extend would need to be made in good time before her term order terminates. The Judge in Wright v Wright did tell Mrs Wright that she should go out to work now that the children were aged over 7 but this was relevant to that specific case and does not in any way mean it is relevant to all cases. This case provided further guidance (following Mr Justice Mostyn’s guidance in SS v NS [2014]) that wives cannot expect their maintenance to last forever or even until the children reach adulthood. As always cases are fact specific and I do recommend you get early advice on your particular circumstances from a Resolution lawyer particularly if your former wife is looking to extend her award (assuming the order is an extendable term order).

  120. Hello
    Thank you for your article. My partner was married to his ex for 20 years and she only worked part-time or refused to work for most of their marriage. She was capable of working, but chose not to (against his wishes, and a cause of the breakdown of the marriage). When she did work she never contributed to any of the household bills, even though money was very tight. Does the fact that she never contributed increase her right to claim maintenance now? – is it her ‘lifestyle’? – even though it wasn’t agreed . There are no children, and she did not do the housework, or support him (so that he could work) either. How much does the ‘lifestyle’ come into the decision of maintenance, especially when it wasn’t a happy situation, but an enforced one? Completely separately from the issue of need (which is totally acceptable), It seems wholly unfair that one party can refuse to contribute financially during a marriage, even though they are able, and then claim maintenance after a divorce because they have become accustomed to it. I would be grateful for your opinion.
    Thanks

    1. Dear Sarah, thank you for your email. Standard of living is something that will be reviewed when considering a spousal maintenance order. However there are other factors that will also be taken into account such as earning capacity/ability but ‘needs’ will always trump. Your partner’s wife would be unlikely to succeed on a maintenance application only on the basis of being accustomed to a certain lifestyle. The fact that your partner’s wife ‘refused’ to work or financially contribute is unlikely to have a significant impact on the decision. As you will have read the court is obliged to consider whether it is possible to achieve a clean break and where that is not possible any maintenance should end as soon as it is just and reasonable. Guidelines suggest that any spousal maintenance order should only be made by reference to ‘needs’ and ability to pay. Your partner should get legal advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible.

  121. My wife and I are separated and have been married for 13 years. We have no children. I earn approx £110k p.a and she earns approx £25k running her own on line business (set up from joint funds). She decided to leave and we have since agreed to split all of the assets we have down the middle, including me buying her out of the matrimonial home (for nearly £400k payment). she was never forced to change career due to family commitments or on say so of myself. Is maintenance likely to be relevant in this instance please?

    1. Dear Nick, thank you for your comment. As you will have read your wife’s needs will be key as will her earning capacity, the length of your marriage and other matters such as the standard of living enjoyed whilst you were married. It is certainly not always the case that just because there is a large disparity between incomes that spousal maintenance should be payable. The court is obliged to consider whether it is possible to achieve a clean break and where that is not possible any maintenance should end as soon as it is just and reasonable. Maintenance is there to help someone to adjust to the ending of a relationship without undue financial hardship (but that means there may be some). Guidelines suggest that any spousal maintenance order should only be made by reference to ‘needs’ and ability to pay. You should get legal advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible and in any event you should look at getting your agreement formally drawn up to avoid any future claims.

  122. Hello
    I am looking for some advice and guidance on my current situation.
    5 years ago my husband left, after long discussions about our failing 20 year marriage. We have 4 children now aged 22,20,12 and 10. We never divorced even though it was talked about and we both went to see solicitors about it but never went through with it.
    After 2 years of splitting my husband moved back in but only for 3 months before he moved out again. We have a good relationship and i spend my weekends at his house with the 2 younger kids.
    We own a business and are equal partners in it.
    Lately our relationship has become fragile and we are arguing over money and who owns what. All the kids live with me and my husband pays me £100.00 per month. I still pay mortgage that he doesnt contribute towards. He is wanting the business for himself and has suggested i have the house. Should he be paying more and would i be entitled to spousal maintenance?

    1. Dear Dawn, thank you for your comment. We cannot advise on specific cases but I would suggest that you seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible. There are a number of issues that you need to address which will include looking at the financial situation as a whole and not just spousal maintenance in isolation. You should also review any liability in respect of child maintenance for your younger children. Our online calculator should assist.

  123. Thank you Lisa i will seek legal advise as you have suggested. I dont want to give up my share of the business because i get a decent salary from it and i dont want to have to sell the house either because my standard of living is good and i am worried for the children. I feel my hands are tied and that i am trapped.

  124. After 5 years of being together, 4 and half of it living together, I walked out on my fiance, I’m working as she currently isn’t and isn’t receiving money from hmrc, we have no children together but she claims she will file spousal payments against me as she says shes my common law wife after 3 years of living together, is she right or can do I have an obligation to not give her anything??

    1. Dear Simon, thank you for your comment. Spousal maintenance is only relevant to married couples. Your former partner cannot make an application for a spousal maintenance order. Common law marriage is a common myth and does not exist in law in this country.

  125. Dear Lisa,
    My brother married his wife /lived together for less than 3 years, separated for more than 5 years. They have a son (6 1/2 years old). Both have just lost their jobs (I would expect that they could find a new jobs, but it could take a while in this environment). He is expecting a baby with his new girlfriend. Our family is curious to find out
    (1) how is his financial obligation towards the 1st marriage calculated under the UK law?
    (2) he is an EU citizen, she is from Asia with a UK resident permit. Will she have to leave the UK if they get divorce?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you for your help.
    Best regards,

    1. In accordance with the law in England and Wales your brother’s new relationship will not mean he no longer has a financial obligation towards his first wife and son. When deciding what that obligation should be first consideration will be the needs of his son. Financial obligations and responsibilities which your brother has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future in relation to his new girlfriend and baby will also need to be considered as will income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which your brother and his wife each has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future (including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the court be reasonable to expect either of them to take steps to acquire). Your brother will need to obtain legal advice on the specific facts of his case, details of specialist family lawyers can be found online here. With regards to your second point your brother will need to take advice from an immigration lawyer, he can find details of a lawyer specialising in this area on The Law Society website.

    2. Dear Lisa,
      Thank you very much for your response and contact to family lawyers.

      Best regards,
      Kristina

  126. My husband and I have been married for 2 years and are ficing for divorce now. He was the sole bread winner where I just barley make ends meet. I have two children who are mine that I am supporting as well. He was unfaithful during our marriage and I was forced to move out of state because of our separation. Is there a chance I will be able to get spousal maintenance?

    1. The aim of spousal maintenance in most cases is to help the less well off spouse meet their needs by receiving payments from their former spouse. There is no simple formula to work out whether spousal maintenance should be paid, various factors have to be balanced against each other including: the total amount of the income from all sources of the lower earner, the earning potential of the lower earner, the lower earner’s reasonable outgoings, the shortfall between their income and expenses, the difference between the income and the reasonable expenses of the higher earning spouse and their ability to pay. There is no automatic entitlement to spousal maintenance the individual factors of your case would need to need to be considered. You should seek legal advice on this matter, details of specialist family lawyers can be found online here.

  127. Hi
    Do you need to be actually divorced to get spousal support. My husband moved to UK to avoid child maintenance but I have found a way. He refuses to divorce me says he hasnt enough money. He earns good money and has a working partner. I found his address through an agency and i am filling out the forms now.
    I;am 60 and suffered a small stroke 2 years ago. I have an autistic son aged 17 who attends school 3 hours a day. I have no family and no friends so no life. I gave up work to be a housewife and mum 20 years ago. My son will be with me until i go as he can not live independantly. My husband has seen him 4 nights last year. I get 392 a week he earns 30000 a year plus overtime. She works too. I know you can not get into figures but if i can get spousal i was thinking of gping for a 100 week child maintenance 100 a week. Is this a realistic figure?
    Thank you

    1. Dear Carol, thank you for your comment. It is unclear to me whether you are resident in the UK or elsewhere as you have suggested that your husband has moved to the UK to avoid child support – this will impact on the advice we can provide you with. In England and Wales there would need to be divorce proceedings up and running to enable you to make a formal application for spousal maintenance (child maintenance can be dealt with differently). You will need to get advice as to which jurisdiction you should be instigating any proceedings in (assuming you are not living in the UK). I cannot comment on figures as so much depends on what your needs are and your husband’s ability to pay. It is important that you get legal advice from a Resolution lawyer urgently.

  128. Hi, I separated from my wife 1.5 years ago and we agreed a financial package with a mediation service. We sold our house and all the proceeds were split as per the agreement and we have have both purchased new properties in our own names. We haven’t filed for divorce yet as we were waiting until 2 years was up so we could do it on the cheap. She has recently lost her job however as a result of gross misconduct and as such will not be able to work in the same field again. We are joint special guardians of our daughter, who is actually my wife’s niece, and I pay her maintenance for our daughter only. Would she be able to pursue a claim for spousal maintenance if she could not find a job paying the same sort of wage? I could not afford to pay her anymore than I do without loosing my own house.

    1. Dear Gary. Thank you for your post. As is generally the case, without knowing the full facts it is impossible to give you definitive advice and moreover, that is not something we can do in a forum like this. However, what we can say is that maintenance is not only based on need (and let’s assume for a moment that there is a need regardless of the circumstances of your wife leaving her employment) but also on the paying party (i.e. you) having the wherewithal to pay. It would be wise for you to seek advice as soon as possible on your position from us or another family lawyer who is a member of Resolution. You will also need to think about whether or not there should be a divorce and if so, within that process, formalising the financial arrangements. You may need to give some consideration to the timing surrounding that and that is one of the issues that you can consider with your lawyer. I hope this helps to some degree.

  129. I am currently going through a divorce and have agreed to pay spousal maintenance until she is 65. I have a large pension in which if split 50:50 would result in my wife actually having more income in retirement than in work. Can I consider the spousal maintenance to offset the pension share or are they treated separately. My wife says that only the savings and split of the matrimonial home can be used in considering an offset in pension sharing. Is that right.

    1. Thank you for your post and question. The period over which spousal maintenance needs to be paid should be carefully considered. It is not clear if you have taken advice but we recommend you do from a Resolution member who will be a family law specialist. I think you need case specific advice. This might relate to when pensions are payable, what income that might generate and how that may then impact on any obligation to provide spousal maintenance. What if you wanted to and were able to retire at an earlier age? These issues need to be thought through in light of all financial circumstances of the case eg ages, income needs, earning capacity etc.

  130. I was with my wife for 8 years but married for 4 months. We have no children. We own our house as tenants in common but with a Deed of Trust charge on it. I paid £37k for the house deposit and legal fees she paid nothing. She has left me for no reasons other than she is ‘bored with routine’,she is working (always has) on around £24k pa. Will I have to pay her spousal maintenance based on these facts? I earn £36k pa

    1. Thanks for your post. We are unable to give specific advice as cases are always fact specific. In circumstances such as yours it would seem logical to work towards a clean break. We recommend you make an appointment with a Resolution member – who will be a family law specialist – to look at all issues and make sure you address issues that will need to be considered. On the face of it the length of marriage will be from cohabitation to separation where there has been seamless transition from cohabitation to marriage – but again this should be reviewed with a specialist as part of a full fact find before definitive advice can be given. We hope that helps.

  131. Hi, I was earning a lot more than my ex wife when we got divorced in 2011 and as she was working part time, I had to pay spousal maintenance, which I understood. I had my own business, of which my wife was a director in name only. To keep the business, I gave her my share of the house and the endowment. Since then, unfortunately my business has collapsed, has been struck off and I have £10 000 of debts to pay back. I have another job which is on equal pay to my ex wife, who now works full time. I have tried to negotiate out of court but she is refusing to mediate in any way, saying she is still entitled to the spousal maintenance. My question is, if our salaries are equal should I still have to pay spousal maintenance? (She earns the same as me, but gets £8000 on top of this in benefits. This means that she has a tax free net income of around £28000 after I have paid her maintenance, compared to my take home pay of£15000. I have two children 14 and 19 and I’m still paying CMS for both, as my eldest is still at college. I am remarried and my wife has 2 daughters, one at university and the other aged 15)

    1. Dear David, thank you for your comment. If there is a spousal maintenance order in place you should not unilaterally stop making maintenance payments to your ex wife. You should only do this by agreement or further order of the court. In the absence of agreement you would need to make a court application to vary or dismiss the maintenance order. You should seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer before making such an application. You may find our other article helpful which deals with circumstances in which maintenance can be changed. As you will read there are various factors that are taken into account when looking at any application to vary an order. Your ability to pay and your ex wife’s needs will continue to be the focus. If you are able to show that you are now unable to afford to pay due to your reduction in income then you may well be successful in a downward variation of the order. However your ex wife’s needs and income will also need to be looked at in detail. The court would undertake a very careful analysis of all the circumstances. I would recommend you seek advice as soon as possible.

  132. My wife and I have been married for over 25 years. We have two adult children. My wife has not worked for 24 years choosing not to after the children reached a certain age. The marital home is jointly owned and we also have other properties which either of us could occupy. I earn a salary and have pension income. From my point of view I accept that my wife may have a claim on my pension but as far as my salary is concerned, I choose to work, she chooses not to, although there is no good reason for her not to, so why should my salary be considered under any court settlement.

    1. Dear Jon, thank you for your comment. The issues you have raised are wide and the financial issues surrounding your separation will need to be looked at as a whole. As you will have seen from the article your wife’s “needs” will need to be looked at very carefully as will your ability to support her if necessary. I would suggest that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer so that you can review the options available such as Mediation, Collaborative practice and Arbitration. Please do get in touch if you would like assistance on a more formal basis from us.

  133. Hi,

    My husband had a successful business when he first divorced in 2011 so he had to pay spousal maintenance which is understandable as his ex wife worked part time as a teaching assistant. Unfortunately due to no fault of his own, but as a result of changes with his major client, his business collapsed, was struck off, and he is now paying £10 000 in business debts to the bank over 10 years. He has managed to secure full time employment which was difficult at 54 and now earns £21000 and she is working full time at £18 000. She still wants spousal and refuses to mediate. After my husband has paid her maintenance and she has her benefits she takes home approx £27000 tax free. He has £19000 after tax.
    Should he still have to pay spousal support based on these figures? He has 2 daughters 14 and 19, who is still in college, and as it is periodic payments and not separated into child and spousal maintenance, it
    is not set to reduce in any way when the eldest goes to university. I have 2 children from a previous marriage at 15 and 19. My eldest is at university. I am a part time primary school teacher and carer for my mum who has Alzheimer’s.

    1. Dear Jayne, thank you for your comment. If there is a spousal maintenance order in place your husband should not unilaterally stop making payments. He could only do this by agreement with his former wife or further order of the court. In the absence of an agreement he would need to make a court application to vary or dismiss the order. Your husband should seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer before making such an application. He should also consider raising the issue with his former wife within Mediation or a Collaborative setting. You may find my other article helpful which deals with circumstances in which maintenance can be changed. As you will read there are various factors that are taken into account when looking at any application to vary an order. Your husband’s ability to pay and his former wife’s needs will continue to be the focus. If your husband is able to show that he is now unable to afford to pay due to his reduction in income then he may well be successful in a downward variation of the order. However his former wife’s needs and income will also need to be looked at in detail. The court would undertake a very carefully analysis of all the circumstances. I would recommend he seeks advice as soon as possible.

    2. Hi Lisa,
      Thank you so much for your advice. We are in the process of seeking legal advice at the moment. I was under the impression that in 2016 the law commission stated that if the two salaries were equal then there would be no spousal maintenance? Is this just for new cases? We have tried for a long time to speak to her and have suggested mediation and are still asking for that, and she and my husband both have Resolution lawyers. However she has refused point blank to discuss, vary or mediate in any way. I feel this situation is so unfair. I wish someone could just look at the evidence and decide without the need for all the upset that a return to court means. I suppose I just wanted to know if he has a reasonable chance of varying or dismissing the order.
      Thank you again for your time.

    3. Dear Jayne, thank you for your comment which I have edited to make it less personal. The Law Commission did publish a report in 2014 which included some guiding principles (not law) in respect of spousal maintenance. It did not suggest that if the two salaries were equal then there would be no spousal maintenance order. Maintenance continues to be based on needs and ability to pay. Having ascertained the needs of your husband’s former wife the court will assess your husband’s ability to pay and this will involve considering his needs, obligations and responsibilities and assessing his financial resources (from all sources) as well. I cannot advise whether your husband has a reasonable chance or not as I do not know the background or specific details of the case. It is, however, as mentioned before, very important that he seeks legal advice as soon as possible. If he would like us to advise on a formal basis please do get in touch.

  134. What a helpful webpage, and i did not realise so many were in similar situations.

    Do you have any advice for me? I’m trying to avoid expensive lawyers…

    Wife and I split October 2015 after I caught her having an affair, have proof etc. She left the family home which has a chunk of equity in it. I stayed in the home as a father and our two kids live with me full time. She has no contact with them. Her affair relationship is over and we have not finalised the divorce, she has worked part time but never full time. When she left she took approx £20k of jewellery with her and I was happy to see the back of her. It’s three years in October and I want to get the divorce done. We have about £60k equity, I’ve paid the mortgage in full always, including since she left. About 30 months worth of mortgage payments.

    We are in our family home, and ideally we would like to stay in it. Can she force us out or force us to sell? I can’t afford to buy her out but I could afford to buy her out over a period of years…is that ever done?

    I also claim zero maintenance from her and have no intention of doing so.

    As the parent looking after the kids fully would it be a 50/50? Or does it ever go the other way and she may get less..

    Thank you very much for any response..

    1. Thank you for your comment Toby. The fact that your wife had an affair will have no relevance to how financial matters should be dealt with. The only way your wife could try and force a sale of the former family home would be to issue court proceedings. A judge would consider a range of factors in determining whether to make an order for sale, the first consideration of the court will be to the welfare of any minor child. Given the relatively little equity in the family home and the fact your children (presuming they are both under the age of 18) live with you on a permanent basis, the court may consider it appropriate to defer the sale of the property until, say, your youngest child turns 18. On sale the equity would be divided but not necessarily equally; the starting point is equality, but much will depend on an assessment of your respective needs and resources. In the alternative, you and your wife could agree for you to buy out her interest in the property by paying her a series of lump sums over a number of years. I do not have sufficient information to provide an opinion over the likelihood of either of you securing the payment of spousal maintenance from the other, however (again, presuming your children are under 18 and are in full time education), your wife will have a liability to pay you child maintenance. I would recommend that you obtain advice from a specialist family solicitor who is a member of Resolution before acting further.

  135. I am collecting maintenance indefinitely based on 26 yrs of marriage, my income vs his, his high education vs my high school, [help put him through college] I do not live the high life, but live pay check to pay check from my blue collar job, after taxes on maintenance, it just barely covers my rent, , my work income pays for bills and insurance. my question is would it be to my benefit to ask to just now get a paid out [can’t remember the term, so I don’t have to pay taxes on the lump sum] a full amount that would total 5 yrs of maintenance, so I can bank that money in a 401k and draw from that while it makes money instead of being continuously dependent of the monthly maintenance that I need to pay $400 taxes on monthly. It certainly would be a clean break. thank you

    1. Dear Jean, thank you for your comment. It appears you are based in the US which means, unfortunately, we are unable to assist you.

  136. My wife left me for a man in her works, Jan 16 she takes home 38,000 a year . I take home 15 to 18,000 a year as a self employed builder with M S . We been married for 14 yrs but living togather for 29 yrs ,can I claim spouse maintenance off her for 29yrs or 14yrs we have a son 27yrs old .

    1. Dear Chris, thank you for your post. Either party leaving a marriage is able to apply for a spousal maintenance order. A maintenance award is reviewed on the basis of needs and ability to pay. The length of the relationship is relevant when looking at all the circumstances of the case. Your query isn’t clear to me but the fact that you have been in a relationship for 29 years and married for 14 years does not mean that you will receive maintenance backdated by 29 or 14 years. When considering whether spousal maintenance is appropriate the court will carefully review your future needs, your own income and your wife’s needs and her ability to pay maintenance. Your disability is a relevant factor as this may impact on your ability to work and earn an income going forward. I would recommend that you seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer who will be able to consider your circumstances in more detail.

  137. Hi
    I am intending to divorce my wife, because of lot reasons whereby the other is that she does not want me to maintain my children from the previous marriage. She doesn’t like them, she hates them and call them by names, whereby she has three children with different fathers that took as my own and do everything. their fathers don’t maintain them, none of them is on this spousal maintenance.
    Now she threatens me to maintain her for life. Is this really fair??

    1. Dear Alfred, thank you for your comment. The reasons for your separation/divorce will not be a factor when considering spousal maintenance. In determining whether it is appropriate for you to financially support your wife following your separation, the court will take into consideration a number of factors including your respective ages, health, length of your marriage, income including earning capacity and other resources. As you will have read your wife’s needs, those of any minor children and yours of course, will need to be carefully analysed. Your wife may be entitled to some support from you if she can show that she ‘needs’ it and that it is affordable for you. I would recommend getting some early advice from a Resolution lawyer both in respect of the maintenance and any capital claims you may have against each other.

  138. Good Morning!
    My question is, do I have to pay it if we are still married and I do send her money anyway,take kids out and buy them things?
    Thank you

    1. Dear Alon, thank you for your comment. Part of your separation discussions should involve the issue of spousal maintenance – broadly speaking, whether you or your wife need it and whether you or your wife have the ability to pay it. Your wife could potentially apply to the court for an order that deals with financial support in the interim before a divorce or judicial separation is finalised. Child maintenance is dealt with separately – you can find more information about child maintenance through the Child Maintenance Service. I would recommend that you seek legal advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible and consider whether Mediation could be a first step to assist in resolving matters for you and your wife.

  139. Hello!
    I have a question about the legislation of spousal maintenance?
    Where can I find it codificated in the law?
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Dear Renee. I assume you are referring to the law in England and Wales? If so you will find the legislation in relation to spousal maintenance under S23(1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

  140. I am 54 years old I have been married for 31 years. When I gave up work 18 years ago to look after our first child (we also have a 16 year old), my husband and I were on comparable salaries. I have not worked since. We are in the first stages of getting divorced and my husband (who is an emotional abuser) says I am not entitled to spousal maintenance. He earns approximately £180k a year and I have worked full time on the house and managing the children – he has always refused to pay for gardeners/cleaners, so I have not exactly lived a life of leisure. Could you please clarify for me whether I am entitled to anything, and if so, a very rough guide as to how much, as I am trying to budget whether or not I can afford to stay in the family home at least until the children leave university. I have no other source of income.

    1. Dear Denise, thank you for your comment. I am sorry for the delay in responding. The subject of spousal maintenance is often a difficult issue as you will have seen from the article and the many comments we have had on it. Ultimately, whether spousal maintenance is appropriate and, if so, the level and the length of time that it should be paid always depends upon the specific circumstances of the case. On the face of it your circumstances suggest to me that maintenance is certainly something that needs to be discussed in more detail. You may also find this blog useful. I would strongly recommend that you make an appointment with a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible so that you can discuss the individual circumstances of your case or consider attending Mediation with your husband. If we can assist, please do get in touch.

  141. Hi Lisa,

    Thank you for the article. It is very helpful. I have a question though.
    I am separated from my husband, who left me while I was pregnant. We haven’t started divorce proceedings yet, however I am intending to do this as soon as possible. We were in the process of a re-mortgage in order to reduce the interest rate. He is now saying that he is not going to go through with the re-mortgage if I do not give him money as part of me buying him out.
    Would I be able to claim spousal maintenance based on the fact that he is not paying anything against the mortgage and he is not willing to go through the re-mortgage, which would significantly decrease my monthly payments.
    Thank you,

    Cristina

    1. Hello Cristina. There is no automatic entitlement to spousal maintenance. Your respective income and outgoings would need to be analysed. All the circumstances of your case would need to be considered and the overall financial situation reviewed. You should seek legal advice in relation to your specific individual circumstances. You can find the details of a specialist lawyer local to you on the Resolution website.

  142. If a respondent works in sales, which comes with a basic and commission, but because of circumstances has not been hitting targets and therefore not receiving commission for quite some time, is it reasonable or acceptable to include as part of the financial agreement the total potential income?
    My soon to be ex-wife says her solicitor says she should receive the bulk of the proceeds from the sale of the house based on my potential earnings.

    1. Mike, thanks for looking at our blog and for your post. I am going to start – perhaps predictably – by saying this is not a straightforward point and we can’t give specific advice as we do not know all the circumstances. The legislation requires the court to have regard to the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire.

      The division of capital should be from the starting point of equality unless needs dictate a departure from that position. There are cases where the court has allowed stockpiling of income to meet capital needs (short high earning careers or where the paying party is nearing the end of their working life with high income and their spouse is much younger). Maintenance is designed to support the receiving party adjusting to the termination of the relationship. It is based on needs (your spouse) and your ability to pay. My sense is your spouse’s lawyers may be trying it on and unless you have already done so, you need to seek advice from a specialist family lawyer. We’d be happy to help if you are willing to get in touch for a detailed analysis.

  143. I have been married to my husband 33years, worked for the first 8 years earning a higher age than him. I received a trust fun at age of 25 and this enabled me to be a stay at home mum for our three children. I was buying my first home before we married. I have received several legacies all of which was ploughed into the house hold. I am now disabled and partially sighted and he has left for another woman’s. He has continued to pay mortgage but we are selling and buying a propertin in joint names for me to live in to meet my needs. He is earring reasonable money and living with his new woman, we have been together 37 years can I reasonably expect half of his take home pay? I would be maintaining the house insuring it paying bills etc ? I have been told I could expect that as he would have plenty of cash to live on and it would not alter his life style. Thank you

    1. Dear Louise, thank you for your comment. As you will have read spousal maintenance will be based on your ‘needs’ and your husband’s ability to pay. This does not necessarily mean that he would be expected to pay 50% of his take home pay to you. Your respective needs and resources will need to be carefully considered and analysed. I would recommend that you seek advice from a Resolution lawyer as soon as possible as there are a number of important issues that you will need to address, not just the spousal maintenance element, to ensure you are protected going forward. If we can assist please do not hesitate to get in touch.

  144. I wonder if you might help me? My husband and I have been together for 24 years and married for 19 of those. I have been a stay at home mum and homemaker for the duration of our marriage while my husband worked and supported us. We have a son, 18, (taking a gap year) and a daughter, 15, (still at school). Last year, my husband suddenly left us and moved in with the ‘woman’ with whom he had been having an affair. There are no assets (he lost a lot of money through business) but he is currently earning 62k. The children both live with me in a two bed rented terrace. I have found it very difficult to find a job not having worked for so long, (plus I suffered a breakdown and continue to battle depression since it happened) but now have a part time job, earning minimum wage. My question is that I have just discovered that he has accrued tens of thousands of pounds of credit card/loan/overdraft debt in the last year. He has obviously been living a very extravagant lifestyle in that time (four holidays that I’m aware of). He now says he can’t afford to continue paying me anything per month by way of spousal maintenance as his debt repayments total at least £1500. Will a judge consider his debt repayments more of a priority than spousal maintenance, even though he has accrued them since we separated? Thank you.

    1. There are 2 types of maintenance, child maintenance and spousal maintenance. The Child Maintenance Options website provides further information on child support. With regards to spousal maintenance your income and outgoings, as well as your husband’s, would need to be analysed. You should arrange a consultation with a lawyer so they can, after being provided with the full details of your circumstances, give you specific legal advice. If you would like to arrange a consultation with one of our lawyers for advice please contact us.

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