Specialist advice and expertise for changes to maintenance arrangements.
Any spousal maintenance order made by the court as part of a divorce settlement will also be variable by the court if circumstances change. This can be achieved by simple agreement between parties, but if this isn’t possible, a court application is needed.
Understanding variations to maintenance arrangements, and avoiding the pitfalls
Formal variation applications of maintenance involve a court process similar to the initial divorce settlement. This means costs can easily outweigh the amount in dispute. If the paying or receiving party’s circumstances have changed significantly since the original order was made, the court can change the maintenance provision by:
ending it altogether, if the recipient no longer needs it
reducing the amount paid, if they need less than before
increasing the amount if they need more – or if the paying party has become significantly better off
changing the term over which the maintenance is paid, according to when the recipient can reasonably be expected to be financially independent
order payment of a lump sum or a share of the payer’s pension scheme in place of the maintenance, to achieve a ‘clean break’.
Is it worth it?
Referring to a specialist will swiftly determine if a variation application is likely to succeed. It can also ensure you avoid incurring legal fees that the situation doesn’t really justify, considering the potential saving for the paying party or the loss/gain in income for the recipient.
Also, the general rule that each party funds their own legal costs does not apply to interim maintenance, a legal services order, or variation of maintenance applications. This means the losing party could end up paying some or all of their spouse’s costs if things don’t go as planned.
Our Family Law team are specialists in the complex issues that can often arise in these situations. We can advise you on your options and help you achieve the best outcome for your circumstances.