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Maintenance Agreements

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Spousal Maintenance Agreements Solicitors

When you get divorced, you may be entitled to maintenance payments from your former husband or wife if they earn more than you. Likewise, if you earn more than your former spouse, you may be required to pay them maintenance. These payments, commonly referred to as “spousal maintenance”, are entirely separate from child maintenance and can be for a limited period or may carry on indefinitely.

When making a financial settlement during a divorce, it is highly recommended to get expert legal advice from an experienced divorce solicitor. They will be able to help ensure that your interests are protected and that you get a fair settlement, including arranging reasonable spousal maintenance payments where appropriate.

HCB’s expert divorce solicitors can assist you with all aspects of getting divorced, including making a financial settlement that works for you. We can help you arrange spousal maintenance, as well as child maintenance and the division of your assets.

At HCB, we are experts in non-confrontational dispute resolution, including mediation, meaning we can often help you reach a fast, cost-effective financial agreement without unnecessary conflict. However, where going to court is the only or best option, we will robustly represent your interests to get a fair deal for you

Speak to our expert family law solicitors across the UK now about maintenance agreements and any related issues by contacting your local HCB office or using the enquiry form below for a swift response.

How we can help you with maintenance agreements

If you believe your ex-spouse should pay you maintenance, or your former partner is requesting maintenance, our expert divorce solicitors can help you reach a fair settlement that protects your interests. There are a variety of approaches we can use to help arrange a maintenance agreement – which will be appropriate for you is likely to depend on your circumstances and goals.

Family mediation

In many cases, the fastest, most cost-effective way to arrange spousal maintenance is by negotiating an agreement with your former spouse. One of the best ways to do this is through mediation, which involves both parties sitting down with a trained, neutral mediator who will guide you through discussing your issues and requirements and help you towards reaching a mutually acceptable agreement.

HCB has a number of highly experienced mediators in our family law team who can guide you through negotiating a spousal maintenance agreement, as well as other aspects of a financial settlement and other key details of your divorce.

Collaborative law

Collaborative law offers another non-confrontational means of agreeing spousal maintenance without going to court. The process involves both parties appointing a solicitor trained in collaborative law to support them in voluntary negotiations. Both parties and their lawyers then sit down together in a four-way meeting where they work together to reach an agreement about spousal maintenance and other aspects of a financial settlement.

HCB have a number of trained experts in collaborative law on our team, meaning we can support you in this area where required. One of the advantages of collaborative law is that it allows you to negotiate an agreement without court action, keeping the process in your control, while still ensuring both parties have the reassurance of their own trained legal representative with them to protect their interests.

Maintenance Orders

Maintenance Orders are issued by a court and specify that one party in a divorcing couple must pay the other on-going maintenance to help with their living costs. The Order will set out how much the payments will be and how long they will continue for. The payments will usually be for a limited time, or until one of you dies, remarries or enter a new civil partnership.

Our solicitors can advise and represent you during court proceedings to ensure your interests are effectively represented. This can ensure maintenance payments are set at a fair level, or allow you to challenge the need for maintenance payments if your spouse is requesting spousal maintenance that you feel is unwarranted.

Once put in place, a Maintenance Order can be challenged by either party if either of your circumstances changes significantly. For example, if you are paying spousal maintenance and lose your job, you may be able to get the maintenance payments reduced or cancelled altogether. Alternatively, if your spouse is paying maintenance and you lose your job, you may be able to apply to have the maintenance payments increased.

Consent Orders

If you and your ex-spouse agree a financial settlement voluntarily without court action, there is no legal requirement to get this agreement in writing. However, this can leave you vulnerable if your ex agrees to pay you maintenance then later decides they want to change or stop the payments. Similarly, if you agree to make maintenance payments voluntarily, there is nothing to automatically stop your former spouse making further claims against your assets or income in the future.

A Consent Order can make your voluntarily agreement legally binding and means your former spouse will not be able to make further financial claims in future. To apply for a Consent Order, you will need to have started divorce proceedings, but have not yet applied for a decree absolute to legally end your marriage.

HCB’s highly experienced divorce solicitors can help you apply for a Consent Order, ensuring the application goes smoothly. We can also make sure your long-term financial interests are not compromised by the agreement you have reached before you agree to a Consent Order.

Enforcing maintenance payments

If your spousal maintenance has been set by a court, or agreed voluntarily but made binding with a Consent Order, you or your former partner will be legally required to continue the payments according to the agreed details.

If your ex has been ordered to pay you spousal maintenance and then fails to do so, we can initiate court proceedings to enforce payment. If your former spouse continually refuses to pay, they could be faced with a fine or even prison.

Challenging maintenance payments

If you are paying spousal maintenance and believe the level you are required to pay is too high, or your circumstances change meaning you can no longer afford to pay, we can work with you to challenge the maintenance payments. This can include by agreement with your former spouse or by appealing against the original Maintenance Order in court.

If you are receiving maintenance payments from your former spouse and believe the level at which they are set is too low, you may be able to appeal the Maintenance Order. We can advise you on the likelihood of such a challenge succeeding and guide you through the process of making an appeal where appropriate.

Other issues to consider when arranging a financial settlement

When arranging a financial settlement during a divorce, there are various related issues that you will normally need to take care of to ensure your financial interests are protected.

Rewriting your Will

If you have a Will, it is likely that getting divorced will change your priorities about how you would like your estate to be divided after you pass away. If you do not have a Will, inheritance issues are likely to be more complicated once you are no longer married, meaning creating a Will is a good idea.

Our expert Wills solicitors can help you write or update a legally robust Will that can ensure your wishes will be respected once you pass away.

Capital Gains Tax

You do not normally have to pay Capital Gains Tax when transferring assets, such as property, to your spouse or civil partner. However, if your relationship has already ended, such transfers may be liable to Capital Gains Tax if they would otherwise be eligible. If you have already separated, your liability for Capital Gain Tax may depend on whether you have lived together during the current tax year.

Our solicitors can help you understand your liability for Capital Gains Tax and what this means for your financial settlement. We also have a number of trusted third-party contacts, such as experienced financial advisors, who we can refer you to if required.

Frequently Asked Questions about maintenance agreements

  • Will I have to pay maintenance to my ex after getting divorced?

If you earn more than your former spouse, you may be required to make regular payments in the form of spousal maintenance to help cover their cost of living. Spousal maintenance is not always ordered and is usually only required when the lower earning spouse would be unable to support themselves without it.

Spousal maintenance is more likely to be paid if the lower earning spouse was unable to work due to raising the couple’s children, or if they had to give up working for other reasons related to the marriage.

  • How long will I have to pay spousal maintenance for?

Spousal maintenance may only need to be paid for a few months, or it could be required until one of you dies. If the maintenance payments are set by a Maintenance Order from a court, then the length of time they are required to be paid for will normally depend on various factors, such as if and when the lower earning partner can reasonable be expected to become financially independent e.g. by getting a higher paid job.

  • Does spousal maintenance affect benefits?

Spousal maintenance counts as “unearned income” when making a claim for Universal Credit. This means if you are receiving spousal maintenance, it could reduce the amount you are able to claim in Universal Credit, or even mean you are no longer eligible for Universal Credit at all.

  • Why choose HCB for help with your maintenance agreement?

HCB is a network of 24 law offices nationwide, offering a personal, local service for families across the UK, backed by the expertise of dozens of highly experienced solicitors across the whole network. This means we can bring our service to you, while having access to an exceptional breadth and depth of knowledge across a wide range of legal issues. As a result, we can handle virtually any legal issue affecting your family in house with confidence, saving you time, money and hassle.

We have a high level of expertise and experience in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), helping families to resolve their legal issues without the need for court action wherever possible. Our team includes a number of solicitors who are trained in mediation and collaborative low, offering you the chance to take a constructive, non-confrontational approach to negotiating a maintenance agreement, or dealing with any other issues arising from a divorce or relationship breakdown.

Many of our family law team are members of Resolution – a network of legal professionals dedicated to constructive, non-confrontational methods of family dispute resolution. This includes several Resolution Accredited Specialists in various areas of family law, who have the highest level of training and expertise in their areas of specialisation.

Our family law team also has extensive experience in representing clients during court proceeding, meaning we can offer the best possible support and guidance if court action is required to reach an acceptable maintenance agreement, or to challenge or amend an existing agreement.

We aim to keep our pricing transparent and offer a number of our services on a fixed fee basis. This means you can have a clear picture of how much you are likely to pay for any particular service at the outset and can make a fair assessment of how our fees compare to our competitors. Where there is likely to be additional expenditure, we will let you know at the earliest opportunity, making it clear why this extra expenditure is required and how much it is likely to cost.

Please have a look at our pricing for more information on our fees.

Get in touch with our expert maintenance agreements solicitors throughout the UK

To consult our highly experienced family lawyers across the UK about any issues related to spousal maintenance agreements, please contact your local HCB office or use the enquiry form below and we will get back to you promptly.

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