Will I get interim maintenance?

As top London family solicitors we often receive phone calls asking ‘will I get interim maintenance’. It is rare for the family law and divorce team at OTS Solicitors to be able to give an immediate straight yes or no answer. Why?  Well that is because most areas of family law are not straightforward and usually the correct legal answer can only be given after some fact finding has taken place. If after a discussion it appears likely that you will get interim maintenance then the best divorce lawyers in London will be able to negotiate interim maintenance payments for you or make an application to court.

Who gets interim maintenance?  

If you are married and have separated from your husband or wife you could be entitled to interim maintenance. If the right level of interim maintenance cannot be agreed you could apply to court for interim maintenance. Whilst you do not have to employ a London divorce lawyer to represent you on an interim maintenance application the outcome of a court application for interim maintenance can potentially have a big impact on the eventual amount of any spousal maintenance. That is why it can pay dividends to get advice from a London divorce lawyer. 

If you are a parent of a dependent child and you are the child’s primary carer you may be entitled to child support. The child support will be payable for as long as agreed by the parents or for as long as ordered by the child maintenance service. Child support can supplement interim maintenance payments for a husband or wife.

Whether or not the parents of a child are or were married to one another there is a legal obligation to pay child support for a child that a parent is financially responsible for. Therefore the status of the parent’s relationship will not affect how much child support is paid in either the short or long term.

If you are married then either a husband or wife may have the grounds to ask for interim maintenance. If a couple live together as cohabitees then there is no legal requirement on the financially stronger party to the relationship to provide financial support or interim maintenance to the financially weaker partner. 

Even though cohabiting couples cannot legally ask for interim maintenance from their former partner they can ask for financial support if their partner signed a cohabitation agreement to say, for example, that they would continue to pay the bills until the family home was sold or if, for example, the cohabitee is still living at the family home and his or her name is on the mortgage deed. Cohabitees will not get interim maintenance in the same way as a husband or wife but it is as well to get the best London divorce lawyers advice on your options.

How will I get interim maintenance from my spouse?

Usually a separating couple need to sort out how the bills on the family home and other outgoings will be paid until they are able to reach a long term financial settlement with their husband or wife. If they cannot reach an agreement then the  court can make a financial court order dealing with how their wealth and assets are divided and if spousal maintenance should be paid, and if so, at what amount and for how long. 

There are many ways to sort out payment of bills and interim maintenance. The key to doing so is to let your London divorce solicitor know the extent of the outgoings on the family home, the extent of your estranged husband or wife’s bills on his or her newly purchased or rented property and the amount of your other regular payments and anticipated needs. 

If a spouse’s reasonable interim bills and needs exceed their income they may be entitled to interim maintenance, depending on their spouse’s income and outgoings.

Interim maintenance payments can take different forms and can be:

• Payments made direct to the mortgage or utility companies to pay the mortgage on the family home and essential bills or

• Payments into a joint account so that the joint account can to continue to be used by both husband and wife until a long term financial agreement is reached or, for example, the sale of the family home or

• Paying a monthly amount into the bank account of the weaker financial partner so he or she can make bill and mortgage payments and pay other items of expenditure or 

• Sometimes a combination of the above methods. 

Use of a joint account on an interim basis may not be a good idea if there are trust issues. For example, a joint account may have a large balance in it or an overdraft facility on it and so money could be withdrawn from the account by one partner. If funds are withdrawn on overdraft a husband and wife are jointly and severally liable for any overdraft on the joint account. The continued use of a joint account to pay household bills or to help provide interim maintenance to one spouse is only suitable on a short term basis if a husband and wife are separating amicably and are confident that their estranged husband or wife will not change their spending habits because of the separation and until long term decisions are made about financial matters.

How do you calculate if you are entitled to interim maintenance? 

The easiest solution is to prepare a schedule of your reasonable outgoings so you do not forget items that are not paid out on a weekly or monthly basis.  When considering interim maintenance the emphasis is on ‘reasonable’ outgoings based on the standard of living enjoyed by the family prior to the marriage breakdown and any special factors , for example , if the couple signed a prenuptial agreement that stated that neither would apply to court for interim maintenance.

Interim maintenance payments tend to be less generous than long term spousal maintenance payments. That is because if a court application has to be made for interim maintenance the court will assess the amount of interim maintenance based on essential interim needs. For example, when considering long term spousal maintenance it may not be unreasonable for the weaker financial party to the marriage to want his or her spousal maintenance payments to cover the cost of replacing their car every 2 to 3 years or to pay for at least 3 holidays per year but, on an interim maintenance basis, the court will usually only look at short term needs.

Spouses need the best divorce lawyers in London on their side if they cannot reach an agreement over the amount of interim spousal maintenance. The best family law advice is essential as if the benchmark of interim maintenance is set too high it might result in the financially stronger spouse having to pay too high a figure in spousal maintenance when the court makes a final financial court order. Conversely if the interim maintenance figure is set too low it may be far harder for the financially weaker spouse to argue that he or she needs a lot more per month in spousal maintenance at the final hearing of the financial court application.        

We cannot agree on interim maintenance. What can I do? 

If you have a dependent child with your spouse and you are the primary carer then you can ask the child maintenance service to assess the other parent’s liability to pay child support. Child support is calculated on a strict mathematical formula provided by the child maintenance service.

In addition to child support it may also be possible to agree on interim maintenance for you. If you cannot negotiate direct with your husband or wife then a top London divorce solicitor will be able to do so on your behalf. 

If negotiations breakdown or a spouse simply refuses to pay interim maintenance the other spouse can apply to the court for interim maintenance. This type of interim maintenance payment is referred to as ‘maintenance pending suit’ by top London divorce solicitors.  

The court can order that one spouse should pay interim maintenance to the other until a specific event or until the final hearing of the financial application.  

It is essential to get the best divorce lawyers in London to give you advice on the issue of interim maintenance as agreeing to pay or agreeing to receive too high or low a figure for interim maintenance can set the whole course for how your financial settlement develops. That is why it is so important to get interim maintenance right.  

If you need help with interim maintenance or resolving financial claims on separation OTS Solicitors can offer expert family law advice and practical support. We are members of Resolution, committed to resolving divorce and family disputes as straightforwardly as possible and without the need for protracted court disputes. One of our top London family lawyers will be happy to talk to you in confidence about your situation. For more information, please call us on 0203 959 9123.

 

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