In this article, we’ll explain what spousal support is, why it sometimes forms part of a financial settlement and who could be entitled to receive it.
Spousal support, also known as spousal maintenance, is the regular, ongoing payments one spouse may pay to the other as part of the divorce financial settlement.
This type of maintenance is only for married couples. If you and your partner were never married, you would not be able to apply for spousal maintenance.
When you get a divorce, you may agree to pay the other party ongoing spousal maintenance payments. The purpose of spousal support is to help the financially weaker party to adjust to their financial situation after divorce.
Spousal support does not always form part of the financial settlement upon divorce. In fact, it is becoming more common for couples to aim for a ‘clean break’ divorce, where all financial ties between them are severed as soon as possible after divorce.
Sometimes, for example, a one-off lump sum payment may be more appropriate than ongoing spousal support.
If your marriage was relatively short – usually less than 5 years – you may be less likely to receive spousal support. Alternatively, you may find that you only receive spousal support for a set, short period of time.
Those in longer marriages could be more likely to pay spousal support. If a couple have been married for a very long time, spousal support could be paid on a ‘joint lives’ basis. This means that one spouse will pay the other maintenance for life, either until they die or the person receiving it dies. ‘Joint lives’ spousal support is becoming less common.
Spousal support should only be paid where one spouse is unable to support themselves financially without it.
There are various circumstances which may warrant spousal support being altered.
For example, if the receiving party moves in with a new partner, the payments could be reduced.
In some instances, spousal support can be increased. This could happen if, for example, your former spouse is now earning much more than they were when you agreed on the amount.
Equally, if the person paying the spousal support is now earning much less, they may be able to apply to get the payments reduced.
In general, the longer the period of time that a couple have been married, the more likely spousal support may be to form part of the financial settlement.
However, everyone’s circumstances are different and spousal maintenance can be a highly complex are of law. This is why it’s always best to seek independent legal advice from an experienced divorce solicitor, such as Austin Kemp.
Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to spousal support, including:
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