Arranging interim spousal maintenance in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

If you’re going through divorce or dissolution, you can agree short-term (or interim) maintenance payments from your husband, wife or civil partner. These can be useful while you work out how you’ll split your money and property permanently. Find out how you can arrange interim maintenance and what you could get or pay.

Interim spousal maintenance payments

The most common reason for claiming interim maintenance is genuine need.

This is when the person asking for interim maintenance has no or little income, and their ex-partner has an income they could share.

It’s a good idea to agree some interim financial arrangements with your ex-partner while your divorce or dissolution is going through.

That way, each of you knows what’s expected of you. For example, who’ll pay which bills. This offers some financial stability.

Interim maintenance can be part of the divorce and dissolution arrangements. This will stop an ex-partner (husband, wife or civil partner) claiming that the other hasn’t given them the money they need, and vice versa.

If you can’t agree how much interim maintenance should be paid, or whether payments will be made at all, you and your ex-partner can use mediation to help you reach an agreement (an impartial third party).

As a last resort, you or your ex-partner can apply to the courts if one of you believes they need short-term financial support.

Applying to the courts for interim maintenance

You can apply to the courts for an order for your ex-partner to pay interim maintenance if divorce or dissolution proceedings are underway.

But this process can be expensive and you would have to convince the courts you needed the payments.

Get advice from your solicitor, if you’re using one, about whether this type of application is worthwhile.

If you’re not sure about your ex-civil partner’s financial situation, and they don’t have the money to pay you, you might end up spending money on court and legal fees for no reason.

What you need to apply to the courts

If you decide to apply to the courts, you’ll need to provide a written statement setting out your financial position. This must include:

  • your capital
  • any debts you have
  • details of what you need on a day-to-day basis in the short term
  • your current income, including your earnings, money received from your ex-partner and any State benefits.

Where you’re getting divorced or dissolving your civil partnership will determine how you apply for interim maintenance.

In England or Wales

You need to send your statement to the Family Court with an application form for interim maintenance.

The court will decide whether interim maintenance should be awarded – and if so how much – by considering what’s reasonable. Interim maintenance is designed to deal with short-term financial problems, so the calculation can be rough and ready.

For most areas of family law, there’s no risk of a costs award being made. But if you take an unreasonable position on interim maintenance, you could find yourself not only having to pay interim maintenance, but also all the legal fees associated with the application.

As with any order for maintenance, the court can agree to increase or decrease the amount of maintenance you pay or receive, depending on the circumstances.

Interim maintenance ends when your divorce or dissolution is finalised.

In Northern Ireland

There are two courts you can apply to for interim maintenance.

The first is the Domestic Proceedings Court. If you apply, you should make a list of money you have coming in and money you spend, for the court. You’ll also need to provide evidence of this (including bank statements and bills).

The second option is to apply for interim maintenance in the County Court or High Court. If you and your ex-partner can’t agree how much should be paid, you’ll have to give evidence in court.

Child maintenance

You can arrange child maintenance as soon as you separate.

It’s usually paid to the parent who the child lives with for most or all the time by the other parent.

You don’t need to have finalised your divorce or dissolution to arrange child maintenance.

There are several different ways that you and your ex-partner can agree it.

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