It is often one of the questions asked when meeting a client for the first time; “Will I be entitled to any of my spouse’s income?”
There are two main types of income payment, Child Maintenance and Spousal Maintenance.
Child Maintenance is an amount to be paid for the benefit of the children of the family, even if the parents are not married. It is payable regardless of the parties’ own financial settlement in line with government’s child maintenance assessment (https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-child-maintenance) unless the parties agree to vary the amount payable.
Spousal Maintenance is a separate payment specifically for the upkeep of your former spouse. Payments are not enforceable unless there is a Court Order stating the amount that must be paid and for how long a period. Whether a Spousal Maintenance Order will be made is a question for debate in itself; the Court’s primary aim if possible, is to achieve a clean break between the parties where in effect, the Spousal Maintenance claim is ‘bought off’ and the lesser earning party may receive a greater share of the parties’ capital to compensate. A perfect example being Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor’s settlement in 2016 where despite his significant income, the Court saw fit to make a clean break order.
If spousal maintenance cannot be avoided, the Court will often look to limit the time it is payable and the concept of a ‘meal ticket for life’ would now appear a thing of the past.
Considering whether a case is suitable for spousal maintenance or a clean break can be one of the most challenging aspects of a financial settlement yet it is vital to get right to ensure future stability.
For help with financial settlements, or any family matters, please contact Andrew Foulds