On divorce/dissolution one of the main concerns of the spouse with a lower earning capacity is their ability to meet their future income needs. There was a lot of press coverage in the not too distant past about the higher earner no longer being a meal ticket for life, but how do the family courts actually determine whether a spouse ought to receive maintenance payments to assist them to meet their future needs.
The answer to this is not straight forward and will depend on all the circumstances of the particular case and, of course, the assets and incomes available to the parties. Are there more assets than are necessary to meet need, has one spouse given up a career whilst the other has excelled, should a spouse who has not worked for years now be expected to work? These are but a few of the questions that need to be addressed.
Whilst it is clear that assets accrued as part of the marital partnership will generally be shared, the principle of sharing does not apply to income and, the Court will focus solely on need.
The Court will also be guided by what is called the ‘clean break principle’, in essence bringing any financial reliance the parties have on each other to an end as soon as possible providing this will not cause undue hardship.
The Court will also look to establish whether a spouse can use their capital to fund their income needs: how much should be used, should a spouse be expected to downsize their home to assist in meeting their future income needs? Again but a few of the questions that need to be addressed.
It is therefore vital to receive specialist family law advice to ensure that you do not pay over the odds or receive less than you are due.
For full advice on maintenance or, for any other family law related matter please contact one of our specialist family Solicitors Alex Kennedy at our Brighouse office 01484 714400, Jayne Shorrock at our Morley office 0113 4673430, Candice Pidsley at our Cleckheaton office 01274 864002, Deborah Marsh at our Leeds office 0113 4874020, Erin Clarke at our Batley office 01924 473065 and Jayne Shorrock at our Birstall office 01924 443900.