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Interim maintenance during divorceMy spouse has cut off financial support; what can I do?

Going through a divorce can be a stressful time. This stress is compounded when a spouse cuts off financial support, or restricts money available to you and your family. You might feel stranded and unsupported financially whilst going through what is already a difficult period. This article discusses the process of applying to the court for maintenance pending suit, or interim maintenance.

What is maintenance pending suit?

Maintenance pending suit is also known as interim maintenance. It is money paid to you by your spouse which helps you to meet your living costs. It can included the costs of any children living with you during your divorce. Sometimes the court process can take a number of months for final resolution of your financial affairs on divorce. It is important that you have enough money to meet your outgoings during this time. You may also need a monthly sum to meet your legal fees. This is often applied for at the same time as interim maintenance. Please see our article on Legal Services Provision Orders for more information on this.

How do I apply for maintenance pending suit?

In the first instance, you may wish to approach your spouse on the issue of interim maintenance. You may be able to agree a figure between the two of you, without the need to make any court application. This is something which our solicitors are able to help you with. We can assist you with negotiations with your spouse. Our lawyers will help you work out your interim budget, and advise you on the right level of maintenance. We can also advise you on the use of a mediator to help you reach an agreement on these interim issues.

If you are unable to agree a sum of maintenance with your husband, you may need to make an application to the court. This application can be made at the same time as you make your initial application for determination of your financial matters, or later. The court will look at what income you are already receiving from all sources (any employment, benefits or rental income for example). The court hearing may take place via video link.

You will also need to complete a detailed budget. This budget explains what money you need to meet your living costs until the final determination of your financial claims. It sets out how much money you need for items such as rent, utilities and groceries. This budget will only include interim expenses. It should not include longer term expenses such as mortgage payments for a house that you do not own yet.

Your spouse will also need to submit evidence of their income, and their own budget. This is so that the court can determine whether it is affordable for them to be paying the deficit in your outgoings as well as paying for their own reasonable expenses.

What can the court order?

The court can order your spouse to pay you monthly sums of money for the purpose of ensuring that you are able to meet your living costs. These payments will last until the final determination of your financial claims in the courts. This is when the court makes a final order for how your finances should be split. Depending on how your finances are resolved, the interim maintenance order can be replaced by a spousal maintenance order. This could be for the same or a different monthly sum. The court is able to backdate these payments to the date of your divorce petition, if your spouse has refused to pay you since then.

Interim maintenance applications are slightly unusual in the family law sphere, in that they carry a higher chance of costs consequences. This means that if you are unsuccessful, there is a chance that you will be ordered to pay your spouse’s costs of defending the application for interim maintenance. This makes it particularly important that you get expert advice about your application.

Speak to us about interim maintenance:

Please contact our lawyers for initial advice on interim maintenance. Send us a ‘call back request’ and we will call you (usually within 12 hours) to discuss your options.

You may be interested to read our advice article on varying maintenance orders. We also recommend you read the case study of ‘Mary and John‘ about maintenance claims for expats.

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