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Spousal maintenance FAQs

My spouse has left me and is refusing to pay me anything to help with paying towards the mortgage and the bills. When can I apply for spousal maintenance and how long will it be before I receive it?

After you or your spouse file a divorce petition, you can apply for what is known as ancillary relief and maintenance pending suit (using HM Court Service Form A ).

Hopefully filing the application will encourage your spouse to start helping with the mortgage and other bills.

If it does not, however, the court will in short time schedule a hearing to decide maintenance pending suit.

At the hearing, the court may order your spouse to start paying maintenance immediately.

Consult a solicitor as a matter of priority, since this is not an area where a do-it-yourself approach is recommended.

How much spousal maintenance am I entitled to?

This depends on your circumstances.

You and your ex can agree on the amount independently, but if that's not possible you can ask the court to decide.

The court has wide discretion, which means it's difficult to say exactly how much you will get. It will weigh eight factors, namely:

  • your respective present and future income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources;
  • your respective financial needs, obligations and responsibilities;
  • your standard of living before the marriage broke down;
  • your age and the duration of the marriage;
  • any disabilities;
  • your respective contributions to the welfare of the family, including looking after the home or caring for the family;
  • your conduct;
  • any benefits lost as a result of divorce.

As above, consult a solicitor as a matter of priority. An experienced family law practitioner should be able to provide a good estimate of how much maintenance you are entitled to.

I have a maintenance order from the court and my ex sends me monthly payments. What happens if I remarry?

Once you remarry, your right to maintenance will cease.

When my husband and I were living together, we holidayed abroad twice a year, had nice cars and generally enjoyed a good lifestyle. Now we've split up, my husband pays me just enough to cover the mortgage and utility bills. He says this is all I'm entitled to. Is he right?

Probably not, but as stated above it really depends on your individual circumstances. You say you enjoyed a good standard of living when you were living together. Perhaps this is something you came to expect over a number of years. Maybe your husband was the primary breadwinner and you stayed at home to take care of domestic duties. If so, the court will likely say your husband needs to provide a lot more support than just paying the mortgage and gas/electric/water bills. As a first step, consult a solicitor and discuss applying for ancillary relief.

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