Maintaining your lifestyle
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