Income & Maintenance

On getting divorced, maintenance may be payable from one person to another either for the person’s own needs or the needs of any children.

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The main types of maintenance are:-

  1. Interim maintenance or maintenance pending suit: This is usually paid for a short period and is a payment to both a party to the marriage and children to meet their immediate financial needs. It should be thought of as a sticking plaster, to help one party to the marriage make sure that the bills and mortgage of a family home can be paid until other financial issues such as pensions, other capital and property are sorted out. The starting point is to make sure immediate financial needs in terms of housing and utility bills, food and petrol i.e. necessities can be paid.

  2. Spousal maintenance: This is a payment made by one party to the marriage to another that is independent of any amount to be paid by way of child maintenance. It can be made for a term e.g. until dependent children have left home, until children start education, until a wife has finished a university course or for a specific number of years. A Judge if asked to decide this issue will take into account current income and likely changes in income that are significant e.g. return to full-time work and the outgoings of both a husband and wife. Spousal maintenance can also be capitalised i.e. a lump sum paid instead of a monthly amount of income.

  3. Child maintenance: This is a payment made by one party to the marriage to another that helps towards the living costs of your children. Child maintenance was previously dealt with by the Child Support Agency (CSA). The CSA stopped taking on any new cases in November 2013. Previously if you received state benefits and had children you were left with no option but to make an application to the CSA. The law changed in 2008 to give families more flexibility and many parents now enter into arrangements themselves for the payment of child maintenance without making any application to either the CSA or the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) which replaced the CSA.

    You can either enter into an arrangement directly with your husband/wife as to what you feel is an appropriate amount of financial support towards the living costs of your children, or you can contact the CMS for guidance about the statutory amount that would be calculated if a formal application is made. Statutory child maintenance is calculated as a proportion of gross earnings with an allowance for the number of nights on average children stay with the parent that they don’t usually live with. If no agreement can be reached about the payment of child maintenance, a formal application to the CMS can be made, but both you and your partner will be charged to use the service i.e. the payer pays more and the payee receives less.

As a basic starting point, the statutory rates of child maintenance are:

Number of children

Gross income up to £800 per week

Gross income between

£800 - £3,000 per week

1 child



2 children



3 children



There are deductions from this calculation for the number of dependent children living in the home of the payer as well as an allowance for the number of nights on average the children stay with the payer.

If you are divorcing and reach an agreement about the payment of child maintenance, you can ask the Court to approve that agreement as a Consent Order made ancillary to the divorce. Child Maintenance Options is a government website which offers a calculator to help parents calculate the amount of statutory maintenance.

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