How the Court Approaches Interim Maintenance During Divorce Proceedings
The court is regularly asked to consider the needs of parties in the short term before divorce proceedings are finalised. It is always key to consider the financial position you are in and will be in during proceedings, to ensure at an early stage that your needs are met so you do not fall into difficulties.
What is interim maintenance?
Maintenance is a type of financial support paid from one party of a divorce to another.
The court has the ability to grant interim maintenance orders where there is an identifiable short-term need to give immediate assistance to the financially weaker party after a divorce petition has been issued. Any party within divorce, nullity or judicial separation proceedings can apply for interim maintenance. You can also apply within proceedings that relate to the validity of marriage.
If you have savings or other means of meeting your outgoings, the court will consider whether you should use these before asking your spouse to meet your outgoings. It is helpful to obtain legal advice at an early stage as the court will be looking at slightly different considerations when calculating interim maintenance as opposed to the longer-term maintenance orders that may take effect after divorce. When you apply for interim maintenance the order can be backdated to the date of the petition which may help with any debts and pressing needs.
How is the application decided?
The court will consider what you require to cover your essential short-term needs. The court usually takes a ‘rough and ready’ approach given that these needs are often calculated urgently and have to be fairly broad brush. The court will carefully consider the parties’ standard of living during the marriage when considering whether to grant interim maintenance. The court will also consider the payer’s own outgoings and their ability to meet any payments ordered whilst addressing your needs. . It is a difficult balancing exercise and clear budgeting is essential.
A word on the risks
The reason it is important to take early legal advice on interim maintenance is because the usual rule within family proceedings that you each pay your own costs does not apply. This means that there is a risk that the unsuccessful party may be ordered to pay for their spouses’ costs as well as their own. If in any doubt, speak with a solicitor about the possibilities of mediation or dispute resolution to resolve the short-term position while protecting your lifestyle in the long term.
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Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.