Ins and outs of spousal maintenance with Lester Aldridge Solicitors

Spousal Maintenance

How spousal maintenance amounts can be changed if circumstances - including Covid related ones - change

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Life Matters for Lymington: Happy New Year from Lester Aldridge with their first article for 2021 written by Laura George, Associate in their Family team, on this highly emotive subject - how an order for spousal maintenance can be changed if circumstances change, including due to Covid. If you know of someone who is likely to be in this position do please share this article with them and put them in touch with Laura and her team at .

Have your financial circumstances changed since you divorced? 

Are you struggling to pay the spousal maintenance ordered? What can you do?

Covid has affected many people in different ways. Some businesses may have been heavily affected with long term implications, some pilots may find themselves furloughed or not receiving the personal and company bonuses they previously enjoyed, some people have been made redundant or taken early retirement. 

If there has been a change in your circumstances or your former spouse’s circumstances (such as they are now in a long-term cohabiting relationship or have secured gainful employment and are able to meet their own needs), it may be possible to vary or dismiss the order for spousal maintenance made within the divorce proceedings.

How can you downwards vary or dismiss the order for spousal maintenance?

It is important to keep the costs proportionate to the issues. After taking professional legal advice to understand your options, you may wish to liaise with your former spouse directly to reach an agreement or attend mediation.  Alternatively you can instruct your lawyer to negotiate on your behalf.  Any agreement reached should be recorded in a consent order and approved by the Court. Once approved the consent order is an Order of the Court and varies the original Order.

If you cannot reach an agreement, you can make an application to the Court to vary, dismiss or capitalise the spousal maintenance.  Depending on the application made, there is a fast-track procedure with less detailed financial disclosure required and fewer court hearings. This can help to reduce the legal costs involved. In such applications it is possible to claim costs if your former spouse has taken an unreasonable stance and refused to accept a fair proposal.

What if the recipient’s position has got worse?

It is also possible to make an application to upwards vary spousal maintenance if, for example, you are the recipient of spousal periodical payments and your needs have increased. It is important to remember that any Court considering your application will also need to consider your spouse’s ability to pay any proposed increase in the periodical payments. 

Capitalising a spousal maintenance

The Family Court’s attitude to joint lives maintenance orders has changed over the years and they are a lot less common than they once were.  As a result of this, we have seen many more applications to dismiss or capitalise joint lives spousal periodical payments orders than before.  Capitalising spousal maintenance enables parties to achieve a clean break and move forward with their lives separately and with more certainty.

Like divorce, there is no “one size” fits all when determining whether an order for spousal maintenance should be varied, dismissed or capitalised. Each case will be considered on its on facts.

Laura George Lester AldridgeIf you need further advice, the experienced lawyers in our Family Team at Lester Aldridge can discuss your specific circumstances with you. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01202 786153 if you would like to get in touch.

Laura George, Associate

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