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Variation of maintenance orders

What it is, who and how we can help

A spousal maintenance order is an obligation imposed by the court for one party to pay to the other party a set regular amount. Such orders are inherently variable as the courts recognise that, over time, they may be affected by changes in circumstances. For example, the payer may lose their job and no longer have an income, or may become unable to work through illness or disability.

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In the event that there has been a significant change in circumstances, either party can apply to increase, decrease, suspend, time limit or terminate the payments. It is also possible to capitalise the payments by rolling them up into a lump sum. The court has broad discretion to examine the position and to decide whether or not to vary the maintenance.

In considering whether or not to vary maintenance, the court will consider a list of statutory principles, which are:-

1. The welfare of any children;

2. The income and earning capacity of each party – both currently and in the foreseeable future;

3. The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of each party;

4. The standard of living enjoyed before the marriage broke down;

5. The ages of the parties and any disabilities (physical or mental);

6. The length of the marriage;

7. Any contributions likely to be made for the welfare of the family;

8. Any relevant conduct; and

9. Whether compensation for relationship-generated disadvantage is merited.

Applications for a variation of maintenance can be finely balanced and require a commercial approach to ensure that the costs of bringing an application do not outweigh any potential reduction in maintenance. We are experts in assessing the merits of such claims and can advise you on whether to proceed, and the likely outcome of seeking a capitalisation.

FAQs

No. Remarriage brings to an end maintenance obligations.

You can bring an application but the position is not clear-cut as to whether you will be successful. The court has broad discretion and will consider how permanent and stable the new relationship is.

Yes. If the payer has significant funds that they did not have at the time of separation then it is possible to apply to capitalise maintenance.  This is done by way of actuarial tables, known as Duxbury tables, which enable lawyers to calculate the appropriate amount of lump sum that should be paid.

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