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Family Law

Maintenance Payments and the Cost of Living Crisis

Monday, December 12, 2022

As a consequence of the cost of living crisis, we are seeing a surge in enquiries both from people reliant on spousal maintenance and from those paying spousal maintenance, asking if the amount of maintenance can be varied or stopped altogether.

When such maintenance orders were made they were based on a person’s outgoings/needs at that time, given the rise in the cost of living crisis that amount may now not be enough.

Conversely the paying party might now be struggling to meet the maintenance payments.

Our former client, Francesca, shares with us her experience …..

Francesca’s Story ….

“As part of our financial settlement my ex-partner pays to me both maintenance for our youngest daughter (which is dealt with via the Child Maintenance Service) and maintenance for me, known as spousal maintenance.

Fortunately for me, the amount of spousal maintenance I receive is index-linked, which means the payments increase each year in line with inflation. This will be particularly helpful this year with the cost of living crisis …. or so I thought …

Unfortunately for my ex-partner, his salary is not being increased in line with inflation and therefore he claims he is going to struggle to meet the increased payments.

It was explained to me that if he could evidence that he could not afford the increased payments, any court application made by him to vary the payments downwards would likely be successful.

We agreed that neither of us wanted to return to court – the costs of doing so for me far outweighed the benefit of the maintenance. So with the help of our solicitors we agreed a compromise, such that he would pay me 50% of the increased amount and the rest he would pay me as a lump sum as and when he could afford it. He also agreed to have our daughter until later on his “tea nights” which means I can work a bit later and earn some overtime.”

Francesca was fortunate in that she was able to swiftly reach an agreement with her ex without incurring disproportionate costs and without recourse to the courts.

If the maintenance you receive is not sufficient to cover your outgoings or you are struggling to meet maintaining payments, take early legal advice to help you better understand whether there is scope to vary the payments (upwards or downwards).

The team at Samuel Phillips Law is committed to using alternative ways of resolving matters, such a negotiations and mediation, in order to quickly resolve matters and to minimise both the financial and emotional impact upon you and your family.

In our next blog we will examine what happens when one party does not comply with the terms of a financial order.

If you need any personal guidance with regards to any issues regarding separation or divorce, contact our friendly and supportive Family Law team in the strictest of confidence on 0191 232 8451 or email 


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