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Will I Have to Pay Maintenance if I Get Divorced?

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When you are thinking about a separation or going through a divorce one of your worries may be whether you will have to pay maintenance and , if so, if the payments will be affordable and how long they will last for. Maintenance for your former husband or wife or for your children is just one aspect of a divorce financial settlement. Expert family law solicitors can help answer your questions on whether spousal maintenance will be payable if you get divorced.

Online and London Divorce and Family Law Solicitors

For advice about spousal maintenance and divorce financial settlements call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.

Is spousal maintenance always payable?

Spousal maintenance isn’t always payable. Some spouses assume it is because their friend get divorced and had to pay their wife ‘for life’. Divorce financial settlement solicitors say it is best to get legal advice as everyone’s financial and personal circumstances are different. Just because your friend or a work colleague pays spousal maintenancedoesn’t necessarily mean that you will be ordered to pay it.

Will I have to pay spousal maintenance?

The question ‘will I have to pay spousal maintenance?’ can only be answered when a divorce financial settlement solicitor has information about your financial and personal circumstances and those of your husband or wife and any dependent children. That’s because your income and reasonable outgoings and other factors are important when looking at whether spousal maintenance will be payable.

No two cases are ever exactly the same. For example:

  • You may earn double the income of your husband or wife but if you signed a prenuptial agreement saying spousal maintenance would not be payable if you divorced the divorce court is likely to say spousal maintenance won't be payable provided the terms of the prenuptial agreement are considered fair.
  • You may earn a lot more than your spouse but if he or she remarries then they can't apply for spousal maintenance and any existing spousal maintenance payments will stop on remarriage.
  • You earn more than your husband or wife but after your child support payments are factored in you each receive a similar amount of disposable income into your households. This is especially the case if you are having regular overnight contact with your children and therefore need to provide a suitable home for them and have the expense of looking after your children whilst they are having weekly contact with you.
  • If you have only been married a short time and have no dependent children the court will try and order a clean break so there are no ongoing financial ties with your ex-husband or wife.
  • You may have only got married within the last twelve months but if you cohabited together for a long time before your marriage or have young children together then spousal maintenance may be payable.
  • You may have been married for years and your husband or wife may never have worked during the marriage. They may therefore expect you to have to pay them spousal maintenance for the rest of their life or until they remarry. However, if you have retired or are about to retire and will be living off your pension, the sharing of income through the making of a pension sharing order may be more appropriate.
  • You may be adamant that you don’t want to pay spousal maintenance. If your spouse is likely to be awarded spousal maintenance in divorce financial settlement court proceedings you could offer them a larger share of equity in the family home or a larger share of your pension to capitalise their spousal maintenance payments so they are ‘bought off’ in one lump sum. This may be in your best interests if your income is likely to rise (for example, you are due to get a promotion at work or you own your business and you think it is likely to expand). Capitalising spousal maintenance may not be in your best interests if you think your spouse will cohabit, remarry, get a job or a pay rise. That’s because once spousal maintenance has been capitalised you can't change your mind and ask the court to give you some money back.

How much spousal maintenance will I have to pay?

The divorce court doesn’t use a set formula to calculate the amount of spousal maintenance you should pay. The amount will depend on your reasonable income and outgoings and those of your husband or wife. For example, you may say that you can't afford to pay spousal maintenance because of your mortgage payments. However, the court may say that your mortgage payments are unreasonable outgoings as you don’t need to live in Kensington or Wimbledon or you don’t need a five-bedroom property when you only have two children to accommodate during contact visits.

How long will I have to pay spousal maintenance for?

In divorce and financial settlement proceedings. the court can order that spousal maintenance is paid on a timed limited basis or for life. The length of time that spousal maintenance is payable for all depends on your circumstances. For example, spousal maintenance payments may stop when the family home is sold and your spouse moves to a smaller property or when a pension sharing order is implemented and your husband or wife gets a pension income as they are of retirement age. It is important to remember that spousal maintenance will automatically stop if the spouse receiving the spousal maintenance payments remarries. However, you can apply to court to vary or stop the spousal maintenance if there is a change in circumstances, such as:

  • You lose your job or suffer a pay cut as you can't get a new job that pays as well.
  • Your former spouse is living with a new partner and they are supporting the household financially.
  • Your former spouse has got a job or a pay rise.
  • Your children have started school or the children have moved to live with you and therefore your ex-husband or wife can now look for a job as they have an earnings capacity.
  • Your reasonable outgoings have changed.
  • Your business has suffered a down turn or you have been made bankrupt.

Spousal maintenance can be changed by agreement with your former spouse or court order.

Spousal maintenance is complex. It is best to get specialist family law legal advice so you know your legal rights and responsibilities and divorce financial settlement options.

Online and London Divorce and Family Law Solicitors

For advice on spousal maintenance and your divorce financial settlement call the expert London divorce and family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.

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