Your entitlement to spousal maintenance

Davina Warrington
Divorce and Family Law Solicitor
Woolley & Co Solicitors

Understanding your entitlement to spousal maintenance following a separation is a significant concern for many. This form of financial support, distinct from child maintenance, is available only to those who were married and aims to provide financial assistance from one spouse to another upon the dissolution of their marriage. The necessity for spousal maintenance arises from various factors, including the length of the marriage, the employment status of each party, ages, childcare responsibilities, and the financial independence of both parties.

Spousal maintenance, also referred to as spousal support, is not a one-size-fits-all solution but rather depends on the unique circumstances of each marriage. A typical scenario might involve one spouse sacrificing career opportunities to manage household duties, thereby becoming financially dependent on the other, who is the primary income earner. In such cases, the non-working spouse may be entitled to financial support if they cannot sustain themselves with their own income or assets.

To determine if you are eligible for spousal maintenance, consider your financial needs against your potential income, the sacrifices made during the marriage such as career opportunities for homemaking, your age and its impact on your earning capacity, and the possibility of a financial clean break versus ongoing maintenance. Additionally, the willingness to pursue legal action, the implications of remarrying on maintenance entitlement, and the advisability of consulting with a divorce and family lawyer to assess your case are crucial considerations.

Applying for spousal maintenance typically involves negotiation or mediation, leading to an informal agreement that minimises legal costs and conflict. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, court intervention may be necessary to decide on the entitlement and amount of maintenance.

The payment of spousal maintenance can be structured in several ways: a lump sum payment, ongoing monthly payments, or a combination of both, tailored to the recipient’s needs and the payer’s ability to pay. The choice of payment method should be informed by expert legal advice to ensure it suits your specific circumstances.

In England and Wales, the calculation of spousal maintenance is not governed by a fixed formula but is determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account each spouse’s financial resources and the reasonable needs of the requesting spouse. The duration of spousal maintenance can be indefinite or for a fixed term, often influenced by the length of the marriage and the agreement reached by the parties, with the understanding that remarriage of the recipient spouse terminates the maintenance entitlement.

At Woolley & Co, Solicitors, we offer specialised legal advice to ensure you secure the most beneficial spousal maintenance arrangement. Our approach is tailored to your unique situation. To explore your options and understand your entitlements more thoroughly, consider a free 30-minute consultation with one of our expert family law solicitors. Contact us at 0800 321 3832 or visit our website at for more information.

More articles by Davina Warrington.

Davina Warrington

Woolley & Co’s Burton upon Trent-based family solicitor, Davina, specialises in divorce, financial settlements and family law. Davina has always lived, studied and worked locally and deals mainly with clients in Derbyshire, Staffordshire and the wider East Midlands area.

Davina qualified as a solicitor in August 2005 and joined Woolley & Co in 2006 from a firm in Burton on Trent.

You can visit Davina’s profile here for more.

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