What is Spousal Maintenance or Alimony & How is it Calculated?
What is spousal maintenance or alimony?
Spousal maintenance or alimony is the regular payment made from one ex-spouse to another after divorce, to ensure that neither party becomes financially destitute. If one spouse was financially dependent upon the other, spousal maintenance should be a fair amount that allows the dependent spouse to maintain a reasonable lifestyle, based on how they lived during the marriage. This amount can be agreed between couples, negotiated by your solicitors, or ordered by the Court.
Spousal maintenance is not mandatory. It is usually agreed or ordered because one spouse was financially reliant upon the other during the marriage.
When people think about divorce, they usually focus on the ending of the relationship between two people who thought they would spend their lives together. What goes unseen is the significant stress caused by administrative and financial burden following divorce. Questions about where you will live, how you will manage, and how your children’s lives will be affected are thrown at you all at the same time as the ending of your relationship.
Our job at Burt Brill & Cardens is to lift as much of the burden from your shoulders as we can during this difficult time. Our expert team of family and divorce solicitors combine their human understanding with legal prowess to help our clients seek the best outcome possible in their divorce.
Divorce & Finances
Embarking on a journey of divorce or separation can bring emotional challenges and uncertainties into your life. Without careful planning, financial disagreements can intensify the stress and add further complications.
Read our free guide to see what options are available in order to organise and protect your assets through divorce.
Spousal maintenance is applicable to couples who were married, particularly those who were married for a long period of time. It is not the same as child maintenance, which can also be paid as part of your financial agreement to cover living costs for any children from the marriage.
If you were in a long-term relationship but never married and are now separating, you cannot claim spousal maintenance but you may benefit from a separation agreement.
The Courts will often try to ensure that each spouse is able to maintain the same standard of living following the divorce as they did during the marriage. If one spouse relied financially upon the other during the marriage, then they may be successful in claiming maintenance. The Court will look at lots of different factors, such as how long a couple were married and why one spouse was financially dependent upon the other.
Our family law team are experts in negotiating spousal maintenance claims, both in and out of the Court room. When we meet with you, we will speak to you in depth to get an understanding of the financial situation in your marriage and what you want moving forward.
Our divorce solicitors will examine your circumstances and advise you upon how much a Judge would be likely to award you or your ex, and start negotiations from there. If you and your ex are unable to agree upon an amount, the case may be taken to Court where a Judge will order the amount of spousal maintenance owed.
While spousal maintenance can often be agreed by negotiation, sometimes a couple cannot agree upon an amount. If you and your ex cannot agree on what is a fair amount, we can take your case to Court, and be by your side every step of the way.
Unlike child maintenance, there is no set amount or calculator for spousal maintenance. The Courts or the solicitors involved usually look to make sure that both spouses are able to maintain the same standard of living and that neither party is left destitute.
The amount of spousal maintenance payable will depend on many factors such as:
- How long the couple were married
- The lifestyle both parties enjoyed during the marriage
- The income potential of each spouse – can the dependent spouse retrain or get a new job?
- Whether one spouse went to work while the other cared for children
- The age of any children
If your solicitors or a Judge conclude that spousal maintenance should be paid, then the amount of maintenance and the length of time it should be paid must be agreed upon or ordered by the Judge. For example, the wife must pay the husband £300 every month for 5 years.
The financial settlement from the divorce can state conditions around the maintenance payments. If the dependent spouse remarried or lived with a new partner for a set amount of time, the financial settlement could order that the spousal maintenance from their previous marriage would end.
How the marriage ended will not be taken into account when negotiating spousal maintenance. The main aim is to ensure that both parties can continue living the same lifestyle, within reason, as they did during the marriage.
The grounds for divorce have recently changed with the introduction of The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. More information on this can be found in our previous blog which discusses no-fault divorces.
If you need legal advice from expert family solicitor, our team is here to help.
At Burt Brill & Cardens we cut the jargon out and explain legal terms and processes in plain English. Our aim is to help you through every step of the divorce process and protect you and your financial interests moving forward. We manage the legal complexities so that you can deal with what’s important.
See more: Who Has Claim to the Family Home?
Burt Brill & Cardens have supported me for the last two years, sorting out what at the time felt to be a complicated and nearly impossible divorce... someone as experienced, understanding, down-to-earth and highly supportive was more than I could have hoped for.