What is maintenance pending suit?

11 Dec 2023 | Hannah Goldstein
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Table of Contents

Introduction to maintenance pending suits

Divorce proceedings, especially long-drawn-out ones, can impose a financial burden on the financially weaker party. Maintenance pending suit allows the Court to award financial support pending the outcome of proceedings.

Maintenance pending suit is a form of financial support that a spouse or civil partner may seek from the other during divorce or dissolution proceedings. In proceedings for a civil partnership order, it is referred to as maintenance pending outcome of proceedings. It provides temporary financial relief, ensuring that the financially weaker party can meet their everyday living costs while the legal process unfolds.

For example, a homemaker who is looking after the children will need money to help them live while the financial settlement is being negotiated.

It is also known as “interim maintenance” and the terms are used interchangeably.

What does the Court take into account?

The sole criteria in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (s.22) when deciding whether to make an order for interim maintenance is ‘reasonableness’, i.e., fairness. The marital standard of living is also taken into consideration.

You can read about recent case law on interim maintenance here: https://osborneslaw.com/blog/my-ex-has-cut-me-off-financially-during-divorce/

What are the disadvantages of applying for interim maintenance?

The downside of making an application, is that outside of high net worth divorce cases, the costs of making an application can become disproportionate to the amount of interim maintenance that is being sought. It is always better to negotiate interim maintenance payments between yourself than involve the courts. Your solicitor can advise you on the best course of action and help keep costs down.

In the case of Collardeau-Fuchs v Fuchs, Mostyn J  said ‘it is a dominant principle in a maintenance pending suit application that the marital standard of living immediately before the breakdown of the marriage is highly relevant.’

How do I know if I am entitled to interim maintenance?

In deciding whether and how much interim maintenance is appropriate, the Court will look at:

  • The needs of the recipient, having regard to their daily living expenses
  • The payer’s ability to make these payments

Each case is different. If you enjoyed a high standard of living during the marriage and your ex can afford it, then your ‘needs’ may be interpreted more generously than if your respective budgets are tight.

How do you apply for interim maintenance?

As with most family law issues, interim maintenance can be agreed by consent. It is important to treat a MPS application with caution. It is good practice to prepare a detailed budget of income needs to try to negotiate outside of court proceedings.

If negotiations fail, the person needing the financial support can make an application to the Court. The exact process depends on whether you have already started Financial Remedy Proceedings and /or have made financial disclosures in Form E. Your solicitor can walk you through the process and let you know what documents and information you need to provide.

The maintenance pending suit hearing is short. The judge has the ability to grant interim maintenance and backdate the award to when the divorce application was made.

How can Osbornes Law help?

Whether you’re considering making a claim for interim maintenance or facing a claim against you, the experienced team at Osbornes Law is here to assist. We understand the financial strain that divorce proceedings can impose and our calm and compassionate approach aims to alleviate this burden.

If you’re the applicant, we can help you establish a realistic monthly budget and guide you through the application process, ensuring your claim is backed by compelling evidence and persuasive arguments.

For those facing a claim, it’s crucial to present a well-founded and detailed response. We can help you respond effectively to help achieve a fair result.

Judges don’t have the luxury of time for detailed cross-examinations, so we focus on presenting your case in a clear and compelling manner, maximising the chances of a successful outcome.

For an initial discussion with an expert family solicitor, please complete the contact form on our website to request a callback.

 

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