Spousal support – or maintenance, as it is more commonly known – is an amount of money paid to an ex-spouse following a divorce. In England and Wales, the law states that spousal support can be paid to either partner regardless of gender and depends on who has the highest income in the relationship.
In many relationships, it is more common for the man to take the role of the main provider for both his wife and the family, whilst the woman cares for the children.
However, times are changing, and more men are taking a back seat in the world of work and their partners are becoming the main earner in the family. As a result, in such a situation, if the couple decides to divorce, spousal maintenance could be paid by the wife to the husband.
Whether or not maintenance is payable depends on many factors, including the needs of each party and the available income, including benefits. Where maintenance would otherwise be payable, many couples choose to settle matters on the basis of an additional capital payment instead of ongoing maintenance.
There is, therefore, true equality of the sexes in the eyes of the law when it comes to maintenance payments following a divorce. However, there are circumstances where spousal support will cease, but this very much depends on the agreed settlement.
For some, spousal support will be paid for their lifetime, but this is becoming more unusual. Sometimes it is payable for a period of a few years to give the recipient time to find employment, or better-paid employment, where this is practicable. In addition, the payments will cease if the person receiving the maintenance remarries or lives with someone else.
If you need advice on spousal maintenance, you should talk to a specialist in family law – call 01302 320621.