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Interim Maintenance

View profile for Luanne Morton
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Separating from your spouse can be a difficult time emotionally, however it can also cause a great deal of financial difficulty if one party is the 'breadwinner'. It can take considerable time to resolve financial matters on a final basis so what can be done in the meantime to help the lower earner with current outgoings and expenses?

An order for Interim Maintenance, which used to be called Maintenance Pending Suit, can provide interim financial support from your ex-partner in order to help you meet and manage pre-existing financial commitments while your divorce proceedings are ongoing. This order will place an obligation on one spouse to make periodical payments to the other until further order or until the divorce is finalised.

Section 22 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 gives the court the power to order one spouse to make regular payments to the other from the time that the divorce petition is issued up to the date of the pronouncement of your Decree Absolute. If the application is made some time after the divorce petition is issued, the court have the power to order the payments to be backdated to the date of the divorce petition.

An order for Interim Maintenance is designed to assist with short term cash flow issues and any award made should be reasonable. Due to the early stage in which applications are often made detailed financial information may not be readily available, however the recent case of Rattan v Kuward [2021] EWCA Civ 1 makes it clear that 'the court are required to undertake such analysis as is sufficient to be satisfied that the award is reasonable'.

When giving consideration to any application for Interim Maintenance the court will take into account the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage, although it may not be possible to replicate this, and critically examine the budget submitted for any potential exaggeration. The court will also take into consideration whether one party is the primary carer of any children of the marriage. The order is designed to assist with mortgage payments, household expenses and day-to-day living until such time that a final order is made.

An application of this sort can only be made by an application to the court.

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