Divorce can be a complicated process with many things to consider, one such element is spousal maintenance. In this article we discuss the instances in which spousal maintenance may apply and how this may effect divorce proceedings.

Within divorce proceedings the Court can order one party pay the other spousal maintenance. This can occur where there is a large disparity in income between the spouses. This can be a concern where a clean break would be preferred and how long the party making the payments will have to do so. Spousal maintenance may either be paid for a defined period or for the remainder of the parties’ life. There is no set formula for determining the amount of spousal maintenance to be paid, instead the court has to consider each set of individual circumstances.

In a recent case Mills v Mills (July 2018), further clarity has been given as to whether a husband should be responsible for his wife’s needs where those needs are not connected to their relationship, but were in fact the result of the wife’s financial mismanagement.

In this case the Court had previously ordered in 2002 a capital sum together with spousal maintenance also known as periodical payments to the wife. The wife had bought the matter back to Court seeking to increase these periodical payments from her husband. The Court of Appeal had increased the payments to the wife and so the matter went back to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court overturned this and returned the payments to the original value as ordered back in 2002. The husband was not expected to increase the payments to his wife as the shortfall had been created by the wife’s financial mismanagement and her housing needs had been met with the initial order.

This case has raised the issue of spousal maintenance and the shift towards the Court’s wishing to achieve a clean break between couples and imposing a term on spousal maintenance. There are many campaigners against what they perceive to be the ‘meal ticket for life’ and therefore will claim this case as a victory.

If you think that spousal maintenance may be applicable within your divorce or separation, our Family lawyers can offer you expert advice. We offer flexible appointments over the telephone and via video conferences for those that need to speak to someone in the evening or at the weekend.

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