Applications for maintenance can be made either for the benefit of a spouse or a child of the family.
It is often not sufficient to merely consider a division of the capital assets of a marriage as this may not adequately provide for the needs of one spouse, especially if they are the financially weaker party. If the financially weaker party is in receipt of a lower income or is considered the ‘homemaker’ and cares for any children (who are either under the age of 18 years or dependants) , it is invariably the case that the financially stronger spouse will be required to pay some form of maintenance. The circumstances of each individual case will determine the duration of any maintenance that may be paid. The Court may order the maintenance to be paid until a specific date or until a certain ‘triggering event’, such as the re-marriage of the recipient spouse, although in some cases maintenance may be payable for the joint lives of the parties (i.e. until one of them dies).
If a spouse is not in a financial position to wait for maintenance until proceedings have concluded, an application for an interim maintenance order can be made. This application would focus on what that party’s immediate needs are and will determine the level of temporary maintenance to be paid until the conclusion of the financial proceedings.
On separation, a resident parent may make a claim for financial support for the benefit of a child of the family. Child maintenance is payable for children who are either under the age of 16, under the age of 20 and in full time-education (up to A-Levels or equivalent) or under the age of 20 and living with a parent who is registered to receive child benefit for them.
It is often the case that parents are able to mutually agree on a level of child maintenance, however, this is not always possible. If not, an application may need to be made to the Child Support Agency (CSA) or now, the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). As a result of the recent changes, the level of child maintenance that is payable is calculated on the non-resident parent’s gross rather than net income and will vary depending on the number of children that need to be catered for. In the event that the CSA has previously had involvement in a case, it may be that they will retain jurisdiction over ongoing child support matters rather than the CMS.
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