Maintenance is split into child maintenance and spousal maintenance; the rules differ depending on who the maintenance is for.
Jordans Solicitors have an expert team of family lawyers who are able to advise on maintenance payments and all other aspects of divorce or separation. Here is a brief summary regarding maintenance payments. Our family lawyers are happy to discuss your own circumstances with you in further detail.
When the child lives with one parent who has the majority of the financial burden for that child, the non-resident parent is required to pay maintenance to the resident parent. This payment is for the benefit of the child, not for the parent caring for the child on a day-to-day basis.
The amount and frequency of child maintenance can be agreed between the parties without the need of any outside involvement. If there are any disputes between the parties, or an agreement cannot be reached, a government scheme known as the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) can be used to help calculate the amount payable, provide a payment and collection service for the maintenance payment, and even to provide an enforcement service if an agreed payment is not being made. The CMS may make a charge for their service. Alternatively, the parties could ask the court to make an order with regard to child maintenance.
The CMS can be accessed here.
Where one spouse does not have the financial capacity to meet all of their own financial needs (such as because they are the main carer for the children or do not have a job), the other spouse may be ordered to pay spousal maintenance to assist the receiving spouse to meet their needs.
The amount of spousal maintenance will vary depending on the financial needs of each party and what a court deems to be fair in all the circumstances. As a result, the amount varies greatly on a case by case basis.
Clearly, the earning capacity of the receiving spouse is of great importance; if they are not in work, it may be helpful to identify whether they could get a job, re-train or refresh existing skills. This would allow them to meet their needs on their own, or at the very least, reduce the amount payable.
It would be rare to have a life-long order made for spousal maintenance; it is far more common to have a fixed-term on the order based on the specific circumstances and in order to allow the receiving spouse a period of adjustment.
The alternative to spousal maintenance payments is a ‘clean-break’. You can find out more about a clean break here.
Our experienced solicitors can advise you on all aspects of divorce, separation and financial matters. If you would like to discuss your own circumstances in more detail, please call us on 033 03001103.