Child and spousal maintenance as an expat, through the English courts

Mary and John are both British and were married for 25 years enjoying a high standard of living as expats in Singapore. One day John announced that he was miserable in the relationship and wanted to divorce Mary. Shortly after, John terminated the tenancy agreement on their villa in Singapore, moved to onsite accommodation at his workplace and cancelled Mary’s dependent’s pass. Mary, who was not allowed to join John at his new property and was a financially dependent housewife, had no option but to move back to England and move in to her parent’s home. When they separated, John became very controlling with the finances and gave Mary an insufficient amount each month to meet her monthly needs. As a result, Mary had to borrow substantial amounts of money from her friends and family in order to manage her day to day expenses.

Mary had not worked since the birth of her children (now grown up) and she found the whole process extremely upsetting. She worried about her future and how she would manage financially considering her mounting debts.  After taking the courage to seek counselling, Mary finally sought legal advice from Expatriate Law and was informed that John has a financial responsibility towards her given that the role of the breadwinner and the role of the homemaker are seen as equal in the English courts.

Mary’s solicitors contacted John and requested that he provide an increase of interim maintenance to Mary, together with funds to meet her legal fees while there were ongoing discussions about division of the matrimonial finances.

After a couple of months of John refusing to engage in the legal process, Mary’s solicitors applied to the English court for a maintenance pending suit order and a legal services order. The court ordered that John had to pay Mary a substantial increase in terms of interim maintenance and a lump sum by way of backdated maintenance. The court also ordered that John had to pay Mary’s legal costs that were outstanding, as well as monthly legal costs until a settlement was reached.  A full settlement followed soon after, enabling Mary to purchase a home in England outright, and manage from monthly maintenance from John.

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