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Nominal spousal maintenance order: What is it?

By , on Thursday May 30, 2024 at 11:42 am

Following a divorce, it may be appropriate for the party with the higher income to make regular maintenance payments so that their former partner is able to meet their ongoing living costs. This is known as spousal maintenance.

There are various types of spousal maintenance which can be implemented, one of which being a nominal spousal maintenance order.

Our family law experts will be able to advise you on the suitability of nominal spousal maintenance orders and help you to reach an agreement with your former spouse.

What is a nominal spousal maintenance order?

A nominal spousal maintenance order sees a ‘nominal’ amount of money (such as £1 per year) paid regularly from one party to the other.

This means that the recipient of a nominal spousal maintenance order does not receive any financial maintenance but will have a safety net if their financial circumstances were to significantly change in the future.

Spousal maintenance orders are not the same as child maintenance. Child maintenance is not usually dealt with by the Courts but is instead handled by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

Why would a nominal spousal maintenance order be put in place?

Having a nominal spousal maintenance order in place means that the receiving party will be able to apply to the court for their payments to be increased to a substantive amount if required.

With a nominal maintenance order in place, the recipient will have protections in place if, for example, they were suddenly unable to work due to illness or redundancy.

Some family law judges believe that nominal spousal maintenance orders should be routinely made where the recipient is the primary carer for the children. With the order in place, there will be sufficient protections in place if there are any dramatic changes which would otherwise harm the welfare of the children.

It is also common for nominal maintenance orders to be made for a limited term that ties in with the children of the relationship reaching a certain age or finishing full-time education.

How long does a nominal spousal order last for?

Spousal maintenance orders will last for as long as both parties initially agree. If they cannot agree, the length of the order will be determined by the courts. There is no set formula for working out how long nominal maintenance will be paid for, which means that payments can be made indefinitely, for a fixed period of time, or until a trigger event occurs, such as children reaching a certain age.

A nominal maintenance order can be ended at any time if both parties are in agreement. It will also automatically come to an end if the recipient remarries, or either party passes away.

How much is a nominal maintenance order payment?

A nominal maintenance order payment is exactly that; nominal. It can be as low as a penny, as the point is not to provide any immediate financial relief to the recipient.

What other spousal maintenance orders can be used?

There are alternative spousal maintenance orders which may be more appropriate if the recipient requires substantive payments to be made so that they can meet their living costs.

A lifetime maintenance order is paid for the rest of the recipient’s life. This may be appropriate after a long marriage and where it is determined that there is no realistic prospect of the recipient being able to obtain financial independence or returning to work.

A fixed-term spousal maintenance order is put in place for a specified amount of time. It can be extendable or non-extendable.

Our solicitors can help

If you need advice about nominal spousal maintenance and whether making such an order would be suitable for your circumstances, our expert family law solicitors will be able to lend their support.

We can carefully review your case and advise on the best options when it comes to making arrangements for your finances following divorce. We tailor our approach to your situation, so we can help you reach an agreement with your spouse about your finances on divorce. We can also assist with any court applications as and when appropriate.

To take advantage of a free 30-minute consultation with an expert local family law solicitor, call 0800 321 3832 or complete our quick online form.

Gemma Scourfield
Divorce and family solicitor Haverford West

Blog Author - Gemma Scourfield

Gemma ScourfieldGemma Scourfield

Gemma is a divorce and family law solicitor based in Haverfordwest, Wales.

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