The ongoing financial payments that are made by a husband or wife to their former partner following a divorce is known as spousal maintenance. A person’s entitlement to spousal maintenance following a divorce will be dependent on individual circumstances.
When discussing the amount of maintenance to be paid, prior to a decree absolute being granted (this is when the marriage is legally ended), divorce proceedings can often be delayed if not agreement can be made and the decision required a court hearing.
If you have separated and one party cannot financially support themselves then they can make an application for ‘maintenance pending suit’. This application can be made once divorce proceedings have been issued and once granted, requires maintenance to be paid pending suit.
It’s important to remember that parents always have a financial obligation to their children following a divorce. Spousal maintenance is a separate issue to financial maintenance for children.
Can I receive spousal maintenance?
This will depend on a number of factors including:
- The potential earning capacity of each party in the future
- The standard of living you enjoyed before the divorce
- The current earnings of each party
- The duration of the marriage
- Your respective financial needs and the financial needs of any dependent children
- The contribution made to the marriage, either financial or by caring for children and looking after the family home
As an example, if a young couple with no children have been married for only a short time and both are working, then it may be reasonable for them both to leave the marriage with no ongoing financial ties and taking with them what they brought into the marriage.
However, if a couple have been married for 25 years and by agreement the wife gave up an occupation to bring up the family at home, while the husband became the sole bread winner, then the wife’s future earning capability may be severely compromised.
In these circumstances the wife should not be penalised for her lack of earnings ability and may be entitled to ongoing spousal maintenance.
If you would like to discuss an issue with one of our family law solicitors, please contact us and one of our specialist team will be happy to advise you.