My husband and I are divorcing. Will I get spousal maintenance?
If you are not able to support yourself financially following a divorce, you can seek an order that your former spouse pays you a fixed monthly sum for an agreed duration. Spousal maintenance is usually paid until the receiving spouse is able to achieve financial independence and it is separate from any child maintenance payments.
Am I entitled to it?
There is no automatic right to spousal maintenance. If you have not worked for a number of years whilst raising children or earn significantly less than your spouse, you may be entitled to financial support. The starting point is to make list of all your reasonable monthly outgoings to determine whether there is a shortfall, taking into account your income from all sources. The next stage is to look to your former spouse’s ability to meet that shortfall. There is no set formula for working out the level of maintenance and it will ultimately depend on factors such as the duration of the marriage, standard of living and earnings.
When will the payments come to an end?
They will automatically come to an end on death, your remarriage and possibly cohabitation. Payments would normally continue for a fixed period e.g., three or five years until you are able to reach financial independence – this is the approach the courts are now favouring. However, in some cases payments may continue for a longer period until the youngest child reaches 18 or the paying party retires. Payments can also be varied up or down by either party if there is a significant change in circumstances.
Spousal maintenance is one of the trickiest areas of a divorce settlement to negotiate. As every family’s circumstances are different it is important to take specialist legal advice to explore your options. Our family team will be happy to discuss your situation.