Separating from a partner can not only have an emotional toll but also a financial one. Practical steps need to be considered to help you carry on with your day to day living. Bills still need to be paid for you and your children. Making sure that you can continue to meet your own and your family’s needs during a divorce or separation is important to assist you to be able to move on.

For many separating couples, spousal maintenance, child maintenance and child support law can be very confusing. Thankfully, this is a legal area that Debenhams Ottaway have extensive experience and expertise in. We can help you obtain the financial provisions you need by helping you with your child maintenance, child support or spousal maintenance claim.

Spousal Maintenance Claims

We are often asked “What is spousal maintenance?”

Spousal maintenance is an arrangement for one party to a marriage or civil partnership to pay to the other a weekly or monthly sum. This can either be a voluntary agreement or ordered by a Judge.

If one party refuses to provide the other any maintenance to meet the needs of them and/or the family, you may need to seek a court order.

Once divorce or dissolution proceedings have been issued, either party can apply to the court for spousal maintenance. This can either be on an interim basis until a financial settlement is reached or sought during the financial remedy proceedings.  Whether spousal maintenance is to be paid will depend on the income, outgoings and needs of both parties (and their children).

We at Debenhams Ottaway will always attempt to deal with matters in a non-confrontational way, where appropriate and we can assist you in negotiations for maintenance.

Child Maintenance and Support Claims for Children

Child maintenance can be claimed by a parent to help with the costs of providing for any children of a relationship. Even grandparents or guardians can be paid child maintenance if they are the child’s main carer. Couples do not need to be married to claim child maintenance, even where paternity is disputed or the paying parent’s whereabouts are unknown.

Most parents try to work things out for themselves and reach a private agreement to pay for a child’s needs. This can include funds for holidays, music lessons and school fees in addition to meeting day to day needs. If that is not possible, the Child Maintenance Service (formerly the Child Support Agency) may be able to assist. This is a governmental administrative body that can help with the assessment of an appropriate amount to be paid, help with arrangements for payment and take enforcement action if payment is not made.  They have authority to become involved where the situation involves the child’s biological parents who live in England or Wales.

Where child maintenance is being considered within divorce proceedings often an agreement is reached as to the amount of child maintenance to be paid.  The court has the ability to impose additional child maintenance payments even if the Child Maintenance Service is involved.  Examples of this are where the paying parent earns over £156,000 gross per year, there are private school fees to be paid or the child needs extra assistance owing to a disability.

It is important to remember that one year after any child maintenance provision in a financial consent order has been made, either parent can then apply to the Child Maintenance Service for a formal assessment.  That assessment by the Child Maintenance Service would discharge the private agreement reached between the parents, unless the court retained the power to make a “top up” provision.

Whether you need advice on dealing with the Child Maintenance Service, court applications for spousal or child maintenance or disputing child maintenance and support claims, we will be happy to help.  Contact our family solicitors today to discuss your options, rights and legal responsibilities.

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