Arranging interim spousal maintenance in England, Wales, Northern Ireland

Money Advice Service

If you’re going through divorce or dissolution, you can agree short-term or interim maintenance payments from your husband, wife or civil partner. These can be useful while you work out how you will split your money and property on a permanent basis. Find out how you can arrange interim maintenance and what you could get or pay.

Interim spousal maintenance payments

The most common reason for needing interim maintenance is genuine need.

Whereby the person asking for interim maintenance has no or little income and their ex-spouse or partner has an income they could share.

It’s a good idea to agree some interim financial arrangements with your ex whilst your divorce or dissolution is going through.

This way each of you knows what’s expected of you (for example, who will pay which bills) and you will have some financial stability.

Interim maintenance can be part of those arrangements and will stop your ex-partner (husband, wife or civil partner) claiming that you’ve failed to give them the money they need, and vice versa.

If you can’t agree how much interim maintenance should be paid, or whether payments will be made at all, you and your ex-partner can try using an impartial third party to help you reach an agreement through mediation.

As a last resort, you or your ex-partner can apply to the courts if one of you believes they need short-term financial support.

Applying to the courts for interim maintenance

You can apply to the courts for an order for your ex-partner to pay interim maintenance if divorce or dissolution proceedings are under way.

However, this process can be expensive and you would have to convince the courts you needed the payments.

Take advice from your solicitor, if you’re using one, about whether this type of application is worthwhile.

If you are unsure about your ex-civil partner’s financial position and he or she doesn’t have the money to pay you, you might end up spending money on court and legal fees for no reason.

For more information read our guide on How to pay legal fees on divorce or dissolution.

What you need to apply to the courts

If you decide to go ahead and apply to the courts, you’ll need to provide a written statement setting out your financial position including:

  • Your capital.
  • Any debts you have.
  • Details of what you need on a day-to-day basis in the short term.
  • Your present income including your earnings, money received from your ex-partner, and any state benefits.

Where you are getting divorced or dissolving your civil partnership will determine how you apply for interim maintenance:

  • In England or Wales, you should send your statement to the Family Court with an application form for interim maintenance.
  • The court will decide whether interim maintenance should be awarded – and if so how much – by considering what is reasonable. Interim maintenance is designed to deal with short-term financial problems, so the calculation can be rough and ready. For most areas of family law there is no risk of a costs award being made, but if you take an unreasonable position on interim maintenance, you could find yourself not only having to pay interim maintenance but also all the legal fees associated with the application.
  • As with any order for maintenance, the court can agree to increase or decrease the amount of maintenance that you pay or receive, depending on the circumstances.
  • Interim maintenance comes to an end when your divorce or dissolution is finalised.
  • In Northern Ireland, there are two courts you can apply to for interim maintenance. The first is the Domestic Proceedings Court. If you apply, you should make a list of money you have coming in and money you spend, for the court. You should also provide evidence of this (from bank statements, bills etc.). The second option is to apply for interim maintenance in the County Court or High Court. If you and your ex-partner can’t agree how much should be paid, you will have to give evidence in court. Forms are available from the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service.

Child maintenance

Child maintenance is something you can arrange as soon as you separate.

It is normally paid to the parent who the child lives with for most or all of the time by the other parent.

You don’t need to have finalised your divorce or dissolution to arrange child maintenance.

There are several different ways that you and your ex-partner can agree child maintenance.

You can read more about the options in our guide How to arrange child maintenance.

Your next step

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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