Rainscourt Family Law Solicitors

Will a new relationship affect spousal maintenance or my divorce settlement?

Hemmingway said that “.. wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”  This same sentiment is applicable to the concept of spousal maintenance.

Spousal maintenance may be claimed by a spouse many years after the end of a marriage, if the financial claims that arise on marriage are not extinguished by a court.  Whether a spouse would be successful in their claim depends on the circumstances in which each person finds themselves at the time the court considers that claim.  Only remarriage by the potential applicant or a final financial court order will extinguish that risk of a future spousal maintenance claim.

A final financial order in a case may not, however, provide for a complete financial clean break.  It may provide for one spouse to pay maintenance to the other.

If you are a receiving or paying spousal maintenance, your court order will set out for how long the payments will be made, and how much money is to be paid each month or year.  If you read the relevant paragraph in the order, it may state that the maintenance is a fixed sum, to be paid for a fixed amount of time.  However, maintenance is often described as a moveable feast, because the amount that you pay, and the amount of time that you pay it for, may change as a result of the court making another order, regardless of the details set out in the paperwork.

The court will consider making a new updated order if either the payer or the payee makes a variation application.  Once a variation application is issued, the court will fix a hearing date within 4 and 8 weeks .  The court will look at the financial disclosure of both payer and payee, and will give its view on whether a variation or change, is required, and if so, when it is to take effect, and would ultimately, if necessary, make a further binding court order.

Now, to turn to the question of whether a new relationship will affect spousal maintenance.  As highlighted above, maintenance is variable and therefore a new relationship may be a circumstance in the case which is taken into account.

Maintenance will end if you receive maintenance and you remarry.  If you cohabit, it may end if, for example, the court order states that maintenance will end after a specific period of cohabitation.  Cohabitation would, in any event, be considered as a circumstance of the case.   If you date someone, it is very unlikely to end for that reason alone.

If you pay maintenance and remarry, this is unlikely to affect the amount you pay, unless there are other factors or circumstances to take into account.  However, if you have subsequent children with your new partner, the Child Maintenance Service would consider this as a change in circumstance in its calculations of child maintenance, and reduce the amount you pay.






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