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Maintenance between spouses and civil partners

When you discuss your finances, you may be able to reach a simple agreement together. For example, you could decide that one of you will pay the rent or mortgage and the other will pay all the household bills. This is called a ‘voluntary agreement’. You can put it into writing and keep copies or you can leave it as a spoken promise to each other.

You can also ask a solicitor to help you reach an agreement about maintenance. If you do reach agreement - with or without help - you can ask a solicitor to put it into a legal document called a ‘consent order’. The solicitor will then get it approved by a court so that it’s legally binding agreement. This is an ‘ancillary relief order’.

If an agreement can not be reached a judge will then decide how to handle maintenance and any other financial issues.

What a court may do about maintenance

The court may issue a ‘maintenance order’ to force your husband, wife or partner to pay you maintenance. The court will look at issues like your income and contribution during the marriage or civil partnership.

This could be financial or non-financial contributions, such as staying at home to look after children. The court will also look at any property and other money that needs to be divided.

Any maintenance amount is usually based on the difference between your existing income (including benefits) and what the court thinks you need to live on. A maintenance order can be set for a fixed period of time or until one of you dies, remarries or enters into a new civil partnership. Payments can also be changed to match new circumstances. For example, if one of you loses your job or gets much better paid work.

Applying for a financial order at court can take a long time and be very stressful. Here at Chivers Solicitors It is there as a final option if you can’t come to an agreement using the other ways described above.

Maintenance for the children.

In certain circumstances an application for maintenance to be paid for the benefit of the children is available in addition to the maintenance available through the child support agency.


We do our best to ensure that you are fully aware of the cost of your case.

On matters that are agreed it is usual for us to agree a fixed amount so you are certain of the costs at the beginning of the case.

On matters that are not agreed we provide a cost based on the information we have at the beginning of the case this is then reviewed periodically. You may also agree to set a limit to the costs should you wish to do so. Work will stop as soon as the limit has been reached and you may set a new limit based on how your case is progressing.