Spousal maintenance is simply ongoing financial payments that are paid by a husband or a wife to their former spouse following a divorce.
Spousal maintenance may or may not be payable following a divorce depending on the individual circumstances.
If no agreement can be reached on the amount of spousal maintenance to be paid prior to a decree absolute being granted (this is when the marriage is legally ended) then divorce proceedings can often be delayed and require a court hearing. If in this case, you have separated and one party cannot financially support themselves then they can make an application for ‘maintenance pending suit’. This application can be made once divorce proceedings have been issued and once granted, required maintenance to be paid pending suit.
It’s important to remember that spousal maintenance is a separate issue to financial maintenance for children. Parents always have a financial obligation to their children following a divorce.
This will depend on a number of factors including:
As an example, if a young couple with no children have been married for only a short time and both are working, then it may be fair for them both to leave the marriage with no ongoing financial ties and taking with them what they brought into the marriage.
However, if a couple have been married for 25 years and by agreement the wife gave up a career to bring up the family at home, while the husband became the sole bread winner, then the wife’s future earning capacity may be severely compromised.
In these circumstances the wife should not be penalised for her lack of earnings ability and may be entitled to ongoing spousal maintenance.
If you would like to discuss an issue with one of our family law solicitors, please contact us and one of our specialist team will be happy to advise you.