News and Events

Spousal maintenance and division of assets on divorce in England and Wales

View profile for Luigi Bernardis
  • Posted
  • Author


Am I entitled to spousal maintenance? Do I have to pay spousal maintenance to my ex?

The following questions will be relevant in determining whether or not you are entitled to spousal maintenance:
- What are your financial needs and earning potential?
- Can your needs be met without the support of your ex-husband or ex-wife?
- Have you been married for a long time and given up work to support your spouse or family by becoming a home maker?
- Are you of an age where it would be difficult to build a career to maintain your lifestyle?
- Could you be better off financially with a clean break and a lump sum or capital payment from your ex?
- Does your ex have a regular income? Would your support be at risk if they lost their job or died before you?
- Do you plan to get married in the future?
If you were to remarry, you would lose your right to spousal maintenance. It is important to take advice from a family lawyer as each case is considered on its own facts.

If you are entitled to spousal maintenance, or if your ex agrees to pay it, the next step is to consider how you want it paid:
- Capitalised spousal maintenance is an option for those who want a larger share of capital assets, with the breadwinner taking a smaller share.
- Ongoing spousal maintenance - is an option if you want a monthly income to cover your living expenses.
- A combination of the two - is also an option.

How are assets divided in a divorce?

The process of dividing assets and disclosing your financial assets to your ex can feel overwhelming. We are here to help you navigate this situation with our practical, sensitive and cost effective approach whilst ensuring you achieve a good outcome.
Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 sets out the guidelines used by the English and Welsh courts when dealing with financial claims relating to property, savings, pensions and spousal maintenance.
Do you have dependent children under the age of 18? If so, this will affect the court's discretion in dividing matrimonial assets. In deciding how to exercise its powers, the court will have regard first and foremost to the welfare and needs of any dependent children. The court will also have regard to all the circumstances of the case.
As the court has a wide discretion and there are no rigid rules, it will take into account various factors when considering the division of matrimonial property, such as:-

  1. The welfare of the children - in practical terms this means providing a home for the children and other needs such as food and clothing.
  2. The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources that each party to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
  3. The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities that each party to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
  4. The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;
  5. The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;
  6. Any physical or mental disability of either party to the marriage;
  7. The contributions of each of the parties to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family;
  8. In the case of proceedings for divorce or annulment of marriage, the value to either party of any benefit (such as a pension) which that party will lose as a result of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage.
  9. Bad behaviour or conduct is rarely taken into account unless it is exceptional. We can advise you on the merits of such arguments.
  10. The existence of pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements - these are not legally binding but can help the parties to settle their financial affairs in the event of divorce.

What will happen?
Before an application is made, the parties will normally engage in pre-action disclosure and correspondence to try to reach agreement on how the assets will be divided.
Once an application for financial relief is made, there are usually 3 hearings: An Initial Appointment Hearing (i.e. Directions Hearing), a Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing and a Final Contentious Hearing.

The way each case is conducted will vary depending on the individual facts.

Do you need advice on divorce or asset division? Please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your circumstances in more detail and advise you on the options available and their costs.

We can advise you on the most appropriate option for your circumstances. Our family lawyers regularly deal with cross-border and complex matters. 

Contact us now to find out how we can help you. Our family lawyers speak English, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

Disclaimer: These articles are for information purposes only and are not intended as legal advice. Professional advice should always be obtained before applying any information to particular circumstances.

Esclusione di responsabilità: questi articoli hanno uno scopo puramente informativo e non sono da intendersi come consulenza legale. Prima di applicare qualsiasi informazione a circostanze particolari, è necessario richiedere una consulenza professionale.

Avis de non-responsabilité : Ces articles sont fournis à titre d'information uniquement et ne constituent pas un avis juridique. Il convient toujours d'obtenir un avis professionnel avant d'appliquer toute information à des circonstances particulières.

Descargo de responsabilidad: Estos artículos tienen únicamente fines informativos y no pretenden ser un asesoramiento jurídico. Siempre debe obtenerse asesoramiento profesional antes de aplicar cualquier información a circunstancias particulares.