Understanding Maintenance Payments in Divorce Proceedings

By Vanessa Lloyd Platt
Lloyd Platt & Co

Divorce proceedings often involve complexities surrounding maintenance payments, leaving many clients uncertain about their obligations and entitlements. When seeking advice in divorce proceedings, it is important to understand the whole basis of child maintenance arrangements; to whom it is payable and for how long.

In the first instance, parties will have to go through a process known as “financial disclosure”. This is normally provided on a document known as a “Form E”. This is a complex document, and if you have difficulties in completing it, a lawyer from this firm can assist you. Both parties must fill in their own Form E and exhibit financial documents in support, as requested by the form.

Types of maintenance payments

The basic rules in relation to maintenance payments for the other parent or absent parent are:

  • you might have to pay your spouse maintenance
  • pay maintenance payments to your child or children

Maintenance payments rules

The basic rules are that if your spouse is earning considerably more than you are, they will have to pay maintenance to you for such a time as you can become self-sufficient. In a short marriage, or sometimes in medium marriages if both parties can have an earning capacity, payment will be for a short period.

If the marriage lasted between five to ten years, then there will most likely be what is known as “term maintenance” i.e. for a set period of time, perhaps for spousal maintenance until the children start secondary education, and for child maintenance until the children are of the age 16 to 18.

Sometimes the maintenance payments for children will be extended until they cease university education. Consideration will have to be given to tuition fees, accommodation, and general maintenance.

If it has been a long marriage, then occasionally the Court will award maintenance until retirement of the other party or death. This is known as life term. The longer the marriage, the longer payments will continue unless the other party has an earning capacity, and will be able to achieve what is known as a “clean break” i.e. independence.

If there are no children, the Court will try to put the parties back into the position they were before the marriage and are unlikely to award any maintenance payments at all.

Working out maintenance payments

It is extremely important that at the earliest opportunity when you instruct a solicitor that you give full details of your income, and that of your partner, so that it can be established clearly whether:

  • You have a liability to pay spousal maintenance and for how long this should continue or have a need to receive the same
  • Whether you have equal shared care of your children in which case you would not be considered to be the absent parent and would not have to pay child maintenance
  • What level of child maintenance you should pay or receive
  • That it has been a long marriage
  • Whether there is sufficient capital available to capitalise the maintenance or pension payments in a one-off payment of capital or by giving more of the house or houses to capitalise

The formula for child maintenance calculation can be found in the Child Maintenance Service (previously known as the Child Support Agency) area of the website. You can also calculate the child maintenance payments to work out how much child maintenance you will receive or pay.

How Lloyd Platt & Co can help

So often parties make the mistakes in dealing with divorces themselves; in whether there should be any maintenance payments, whether they should be cut off and, often in the case of women, will bargain off their maintenance in order to keep the majority of the home.

Do not be tempted to do this until you have received proper legal advice.

At Lloyd Platt & Co, we understand the importance of ensuring financial stability for families during and after divorce or separation. We specialise in financial settlements, ascertaining whether the maintenance is or is not payable and the length for which it should continue.

Our team assists clients in navigating maintenance payments, taking into account various factors such as the basic rate, benefits, and child support costs. We provide guidance on determining the appropriate amount of maintenance, considering the needs of the family and any other children involved.

Whether it’s arranging child maintenance payment methods through CMS, collection by direct debit setups or direct pay arrangements, or establishing collection and payment schedules, we will advise on solutions that suit the circumstances of each family to ensure smooth and reliable maintenance payments, promoting financial security for all parties involved.

Read more about this topic in our articles on Hiding money during a divorce, Hiding assets in a divorce and see our Guide on how to get a divorce for more information on the divorce process.

If you want to discuss any aspect of divorce and separation, including maintenance payments, please fill in our form below, call us on 0208 343 2998 or click to contact our divorce lawyers in London.

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