Maintenance Guidance  
 
Introduction
Maintenance is regular payments made by the higher earning partner to the lower or non-earning partner. Unlike other financial settlements, maintenance can continue for life (and even after the payer’s death!), so it’s a continuous liability. There are three questions you might want to consider when trying to work out maintenance:
 
 
  • Should there be maintenance at all?

  • If so, does it need to go on forever?

  • How do we work out how much any maintenance should be?
 
 
Should there be an order for maintenance?
 
This depends very much on your circumstances. If you’re both working, your marriage was relatively short and there are no children, maintenance is probably inappropriate. Where this is not the case, you might also consider a ‘clean break’ (no maintenance) in exchange for a larger share of the property. If you are in a situation where you are not likely to be able to pay maintenance in the foreseeable future, you might also want to consider a clean break.
 
 
On the other hand, if one of you has a well-paying job and the other is looking after young children, a clean break might not be appropriate.
 
  Does maintenance have to go on forever?  
 
Not necessarily. It might go on until the children are grown up, or until the non-earning partner has undergone some training to enable him/her to get a job. Again it depends on your circumstances. For example, if your children are grown up but your partner hasn’t worked since they were born, s/he would need to have maintenance for the time needed to get back into the job market and, if you have a high standard of living, s/he might also need to be recompensed (in capital, perhaps) for any large imbalance in his/her future standard of living.
 
  Pension sharing might also be relevant in determining how long a maintenance order should run.  
  Maintenance orders stop on the remarriage, co-habitation or death of the person who’s receiving the payments.  
  How do we work out the amount?  
 
Unless you are very wealthy, you are likely to have to make some adjustments to your standard of living, whether you are the payer of maintenance or the recipient. It is also always worthwhile to think about how maintenance is going to affect state benefits if one of you is in receipt of these.
 
 
A good starting point is for each of you to make a list of all your reasonable outgoings (or likely outgoings if you’re still living together). Make this as detailed as possible and don’t forget to include any child maintenance in your outgoings if you have children. Then note down your respective incomes from all sources (so include state benefits, child maintenance if you’re the one receiving it, share dividends etc. as well as your earnings from work) and deduct the outgoings from the income.
 
  Further information  
 
A basic consent order kit and a maintenance add-on kit are available from us including detailed guidance notes as well as all the forms, examples and information you need to complete your own consent order.
 
 
You might also be interested in our e-booklet on negotiating your divorce settlement whether your partner is represented by a solicitor or not, which includes detailed information both on the negotiation process itself and on possible solutions in a number of different situations.
 
 
In addition, our family law expert will be happy to help you with any advice or drafting of documents you might need.
 
 
 
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