Spousal maintenance is a contentious area of law, requiring expert legal advice for couples looking to divorce.

Calum Whelan, specialist family law solicitor from Paul Crowley & Co has advised and successfully represented many clients concerned about spousal maintenance and the welfare of their family.

When a couple get divorced a clean break order is usually entered into, this arrangement enables divorced couples to live financially independent of each other, where no clean break agreement is in place, either the husband or wife may have to make regular spousal maintenance payments to their ex partner.

Spousal maintenance orders

Following the divorce, spousal maintenance payments are paid by the husband or wife to the ex spouse to ensure that neither party will be subject to financial hardship, in the majority of divorce cases it is usually the wife who will suffer this burden.

In England and Wales there are three different types of spousal maintenance orders:

Joint lives
This is payable until the death of either party or if the benefactor of the spousal maintenance remarries

Extendable term
This is payable for a fixed period but can be extended

Non-extendable term
This is payable for a fixed term and cannot under any circumstances be extended

Spousal maintenance UK guidance

It is important that you get the correct legal advice, with spousal maintenance there are no set rules to calculate maintenance payments, the amount payable and over what timescale differs for every divorced couple.

Calum is a member of Resolution. Resolution is the largest membership organisation for family justice professionals in England and Wales. Resolution members are committed to a Code of Practice, promoting a constructive non-confrontational approach, which results in better outcomes for families and children. If you would like to speak with Calum please call him on 0151 264 7363‘. Calum Whelan, Solicitor, Paul Crowley & Co.

Spousal maintenance payments, your questions answered

Calum answers your frequently asked questions on spousal maintenance and what it means for you.

What is spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is a regular monthly payment, made by the husband or wife to a former spouse.

It is payable if the former spouse is unable to support themselves financially following divorce.

Avoiding spousal maintenance?

It is possible to avoid spousal maintenance if both partners are agreeable on a clean break order and are able to support themselves financially following their divorce. 

I can provide you with further advice on this if you would like to call me on 0151 264 7363.

Do I have to pay spousal maintenance?

If a clean break order, freeing both partners from any future financial responsibility to their ex cannot be agreed in court, to avoid financial inequality the court would order a spousal maintenance order to protect an ex-partner from being financially vulnerable.

Calum says: Spousal maintenance is one of the more complicated and nuanced areas of divorce law and really is an area where you should seek specialist advice. If you are thinking about filing for a divorce and would like to find out what your best options are, then please give me a call on 0151 264 7363.

How much spousal maintenance do I have to pay?

Spousal maintenance payments are different for every divorced couple. The amount of maintenance payable to your ex partner would depend on a number of things, how much income your ex partner already has, how much your ex partner needs to live on and how much their potential earnings could be in the future.

How much spousal maintenance am I entitled to?

Maintenance used to be calculated according to the spousal maintenance one third rule. Both partners’ incomes would be added together, divided by three, and one partner (usually the wife) would get a third minus their own income, nowadays the calculation is more likely to account for half your ex partners income.  

Do you have a spousal maintenance calculator?

Unfortunately there is no spousal maintenance uk calculator to assist with maintenance enquiries. Many people call up to ask is spousal maintenance taxable income or for spousal maintenance examples, the truth is each divorce is calculated differently. For expert maintenance advice and to give you an idea of how the courts work out spousal maintenance please call Calum on 0151 264 7363.

Expert legal advice…

To speak directly with one of our specialist Family lawyers please call us on 0151 264 7363 and a member of our team will be happy to assist.


Am I entitled to spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance does not apply to unmarried couples. Spousal maintenance after divorce maybe paid from one spouse to another if either spouse cannot support themselves financially. The conditions under which spousal maintenance is paid is different with every divorce.

Who decides on how much spousal maintenance I have to pay?

The Court decides on how much spousal maintenance has to be paid, income from both parties are taken into account, along with the needs of both parties and the standard of living enjoyed while they were together.

How often do I have to make spousal maintenance payments?

Spousal maintenance payments are usually paid on a monthly basis.

How long do I have to pay spousal maintenance?

Depending on the circumstances, it could be for a fixed term defined over a number of years or for the life of either party, only on rare occasions is an order is made for the remainder of either partners life.

Can I stop paying spousal maintenance?

If the benefactor of the spousal maintenance payments re-marries then the payments will stop, the order will not be affected if the ex partner simply cohabits.

In the event of either partner named in the spousal maintenance order dying, then the spousal maintenance payments will cease.

Does spousal maintenance include child maintenance payments?

No it doesn’t. Spousal maintenance is based upon an ex partners financial needs, whereas child maintenance is statutory and is based upon the paying parties’ income.

Both spousal maintenance and child maintenance could be payable at the same time.

How is spousal maintenance calculated?

The courts main priority when calculating spousal maintenance is the welfare of any children.

There are many different factors taken into consideration that will determine the amount of spousal maintenance that a partner will have to pay:

  • Which party the children are living with
  • The income needs of the parties
  • Whether both parties are working
  • The total marital income prior to separation
  • The length of the marriage
  • The ages of the parties
  • The parties earning capacity
  • Whether both can manage financially without assistance from the other
  • Assets within the marriage
  • Standard of living enjoyed during the marriage

What if I lose my job and cannot afford to pay spousal maintenance?

We would advise that you try to reach an agreement with your ex partner, failing this you can apply to the court to suspend the existing maintenance order until you are able to gain further employment.

When employment is restarted, it may be that either party reapply to the court for a change to the existing order, this figure could go up or down depending on the level of renumeration.

Can the amount of spousal maintenance be changed?

Yes, if there is a change in either parties circumstances an application can be made to the court to amend the existing spousal maintenance order. Dependant upon the level of change, the maintenance order can be increased or decreased.

Another option to change the existing maintenance order is for the order to be capitalised, effectively terminating the agreement by replacing the ongoing maintenance payments with a one-off financial lump sum. It is the duty of both the payer and the recipient to inform their ex partner of any change in their financial or marital circumstances.

If you have a family law question you would like to put to Calum please call him on 0151 264 7363.


For a free no obligation chat with one of our Family Law Solicitors or to make an appointment call us now on 0151 264 7363 or email us.

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