Main­tain­ing your life­style

Lancashire Life - - Family -

Break­ing up can be hard – fam­ily law ex­pert Ru­bina Vohra ex­plains how the fi­nances can work out

Spousal main­te­nance is paid by a hus­band or a wife to their for­mer spouse fol­low­ing a di­vorce and is not to be con­fused with child main­te­nance. It is awarded where one party’s in­come or assets are in­suf­fi­cient to meet their day-to-day needs and the “needs of a party” are a sub­jec­tive test and very much de­pen­dent upon in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances.

By hav­ing a spousal main­te­nance or­der, both par­ties must be aware that fur­ther ap­pli­ca­tions can be made to the court to vary the amount, ei­ther up­wards or down­wards, or dis­missed en­tirely. The par­ties, there­fore, need to be aware that hav­ing a spousal main­te­nance or­der does not pro­vide a clean break and both are vul­ner­a­ble to fur­ther ap­pli­ca­tions to the court.

There is no set cal­cu­la­tion for spousal main­te­nance; it very much de­pends on; the type of life­style that the par­ties en­joyed dur­ing their mar­riage, the length of the mar­riage, the needs of the party who is claim­ing and whether their in­come needs can be met with­out spousal main­te­nance be­ing paid. Spousal main­te­nance does not have to be a flat pay­ment and can of­ten be re­duced over a term, de­pend­ing on whether the court or the other party ex­pect the re­ceiv­ing party to be in a bet­ter fi­nan­cial po­si­tion as the years go on, for ex­am­ple if they were to fin­ish train­ing and start a job, ex­pect to re­ceive an in­crease in salary, ex­pect to re­turn to work af­ter a child has started school etc.

A nom­i­nal main­te­nance or­der can be made in favour of

a party where, at the time of sep­a­ra­tion their in­come is able to meet their needs, how­ever there may be a re­quire­ment of a top-up of main­te­nance at some point in the fu­ture. The nom­i­nal main­te­nance pay­ment can be as low as £1 per year. The im­pact of hav­ing such a nom­i­nal main­te­nance or­der is that it leaves the claim for spousal main­te­nance open, al­low­ing a fu­ture ap­pli­ca­tion for vari­a­tion up­wards should the need arise.

Any party who is en­ti­tled to re­ceive spousal main­te­nance may choose to cap­i­talise their spousal main­te­nance by way of a lump sum at the time of fi­nan­cial set­tle­ment. This would

ABOVE: Ru­bina Vohra

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