nominal maintenance

What is a Nominal Maintenance Order and what are the benefits?

A nominal maintenance Order is an Order that one spouse should pay to their husband or wife a small sum on an ongoing basis, either for a fixed term or indefinitely. The amount could be as small as a penny a year. Whilst this may not seem to be a benefit to the recipient, the implications of such an Order are much greater than they sound.

What are the benefits of a Nominal Maintenance Order?

A nominal spousal maintenance Order can act as a safety net for the receiving spouse in circumstances where one party’s financial position changes significantly after divorce.

For the term of the nominal Order, either party can apply to the Court to vary the amount being paid. This means the recipient of the nominal maintenance can apply for the amount being received to be increased if the circumstances justify it. This may be due to a significant improvement in the paying spouse’s financial position, or a significant reduction in the receiving spouse’s financial position.

What happens if an Order is put in place?

If there is ongoing spousal maintenance (whether nominal or substantive), there is no clean break and the spouses will remain financially tied for the term of the maintenance Order. It would be possible for the receiving spouse to make further financial claims in the future, and so there can be a significant advantage for the paying spouse to seek a clean break instead.

Spousal maintenance is different from child maintenance, which in the vast majority of cases, is dealt with either by the Child Maintenance Service or by agreement rather than the Court.

Whether or not there is ongoing spousal maintenance of a nominal amount or otherwise is an important consideration for both parties in a divorce, and can have significant ramifications for the future. It is therefore important to take advice from a solicitor experienced in family law.