If you're splitting up with a partner, it's important to understand when you might need to pay, or claim, different kinds of maintenance.

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K Smith, Family Law Services

The Short of it

  • Splitting up with your partner can be a difficult time emotionally for you,

    but it may also have an impact on your everyday finances.

  • There are different types of maintenance that you may need to pay or be entitled to claim for,

    including child maintenance and maintenance for yourself.

  • It is important for you to know what you (or your ex-partner) might be entitled to claim.

    Our specialist team can answer any queries you may have relating to maintenance.

  • Everything we do at Watermans is about getting you the resolution you need

    and providing Straightforward legal advice. It should be that simple.

  • The Long of it

    What is maintenance?

    Do I need to pay or claim for maintenance?

    Separation often has an impact on your everyday finances as well as your emotions. If one of you moves out, running two households is usually more expensive. One of you may be out of the workforce and have no immediate prospects of earning. And if your child is spending more nights with one of you, child maintenance will be payable.

    Maintenance for a partner depends firstly on whether or not you’re married. If not, you are not legally required to support each other financially when the relationship ends. However, if you are married, you do have this obligation, and it continues until divorce. In practice, this falls to the higher earner of the couple. Many people can negotiate this by sitting down with together with their household budgets. If not, the court can be asked to order temporary maintenance payments. To do this, you’ll both need to provide evidence about your respective income and expenditure.

    Post-divorce spousal maintenance is also possible, although it needs to be agreed or ordered by the court – it is not automatic. Typical scenarios are where one of you needs to retrain to enter the workforce, or to take time to adjust to a different standard of living. This is normally dealt with as part of overall financial settlement on divorce, together with the house, pensions and so on.

    Child maintenance

    Which parent has to pay child maintenance?

    Child maintenance is payable to the parent with care, that is, the person with whom the child primarily resides, by the non-resident parent. It is intended to cover the child’s everyday living costs.

    You can agree a figure between you or ask the Child Maintenance Service to intervene. Many people find it helpful to use the Government’s online child maintenance calculator on the CMS website as a basis for discussion. However, this can only give you an indication of what’s due.

    If your situation is unusual, like if one of you is a very high earner or a parent working overseas, then it is important to seek specialist advice.

    Do I need a lawyer?

    Do I need a lawyer to organise spousal or child maintenance?

    Many people can agree maintenance issues between themselves by sitting down at the kitchen table and going through their finances. However, sometimes that isn’t possible, or you may feel daunted by the idea of discussing finances directly with your partner.

    Whilst often you can agree maintenance issues between you, sometimes that isn’t possible. It is common practice for lawyers to negotiate spousal and child maintenance as part of the separation process, and if necessary to ask the court to require payment. We can help you to sort this out.

    Our specialist family lawyers are on hand to answer any queries you may have, and are there to help you throughout the whole process.

    Why Watermans?

    Why should I choose Watermans as my family lawyers?

    We’re experts in family law and we know our stuff – but we’re also normal people you can have a real conversation with. We don’t use legal jargon (or Latin), we give straightforward advice, and we won’t judge or patronise you.

    Coming from a range of backgrounds and with our own life experiences to draw on, we understand and empathise with how stressful family disputes can be.

    We know how important it is to trust your lawyer and that you need to know we’re in your corner. Our aim is to work in partnership with you to help resolve things quickly and cost-effectively so you can move forward with your life.

    Get in touch with us

    Everything we do at Watermans is about getting you the resolution you need and making that process straightforward. Start the process by sending us your details below or calling us on 0131 555 7055

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    Our Family Law expert

    “People often say to me that family law must be a depressing job – but I’ve never felt that. What we do makes a difference. I love working with my clients to understand their stories, help them work out where they want to get to, and collaborate with them to achieve their goals. Seeing people come through it and embark on a new stage of their lives is a great feeling.”

    Dianne Millen, Head of Family Law