There are two types of maintenance that you could be entitled to on the divorce or dissolution of your marriage, the first being child maintenance.
Both parents have a legal responsibility for the financial maintenance of their child. Child maintenance is the contribution towards a child’s living costs by the parent who does not live with them. In order to be eligible for this, your child must be under 16, or under 20, but in full-time education up to A-levels or equivalent.
Ideally, the amount of maintenance needed will be arranged by both parents but, where tensions are high, this isn’t always a possibility. The Child Maintenance Service can be a helpful resource in circumstances such as these. They can work out the amount that you are entitled to using their online ‘child maintenance calculator tool’ plus they can arrange payments and take action if a parent doesn’t pay. However, the tool isn’t always reliable in complex scenarios and therefore you may still need to seek specialist advice depending on your circumstances.
Additionally, you could also be entitled to spousal maintenance. This is a payment made by your former spouse as part of the financial agreement. It is usually only awarded where there are significant differences between the parties’ income and earning capacity meaning that one party cannot reasonably support themselves without payment from the other. These payments are usually made monthly and can last for a defined period or for the rest of the receiving spouses life. However, the obligation to pay these is terminated if the receiving spouse remarries or enters a civil partnership. Furthermore, these payments are not fixed or guaranteed as they can be varied by the courts if there is a change in either party’s circumstances such as the receiving spouse having an increase to their other income.
How is it spousal maintenance calculated?
Unlike for child maintenance, there is no set formula for deciding how much you are entitled to. This is either agreed by both parties or if not, decided by the court. Firstly, the court always has an obligation to consider the possibility of a ‘clean break’ between parties. But spousal maintenance may be awarded where it would be considered unfair not to do so. The court will consider the income of both parties and the standard of living that they enjoyed for the duration of the marriage. Also, the other spouse’s ability to make the payments will be a contributing factor.
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If you are separated or considering separating or divorce, we can advise you on your particular circumstances and whether spousal maintenance is a suitable option for you. Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation today.