If you have a joint lives periodical payment order, this means that maintenance is payable until the death of either you or your ex-husband, you remarrying, or if a further order of the court is made. In some instances the court can also order that maintenance should stop if you cohabit for a period of time.
This type of order can provide uncertainty for both the payer and the recipient as either party could find themselves the subject of a variation application.
Upon an application the court will consider whether you can adjust without undue hardship in the event of a reduction or termination. Reaching financial independence will be a factor that the court will consider when dealing with the application to vary.
The court will look at all the circumstances of your case including needs, financial resources, age, any disability, the standard of living enjoyed and earning capacity. The court must consider whether you can adjust to financial independence without undue hardship.
You and your ex-husband are free to vary the arrangements between yourselves, via negotiation or with the assistance of mediators. Both parties would need to take independent legal advice and the variation should be recorded in a consent order which would be lodged with the court for approval. This ensures clarity for both parties, and provides an enforceable order in the event of any future breach.
Many people ask us what happens if their spouse stops paying maintenance. The first step would be to reach an agreement via negotiation or mediation. If this is unsuccessful, you could consider an application to the court to enforce payment of the maintenance under the order. However, it is only possible to seek arrears which are 12 months old or less, therefore the timing of an application is crucial.
Spousal maintenance is a complex area of law, so it is advisable to seek legal advice. If you wish to discuss spousal maintenance or any other family law related issue, please contact me on 01782 205000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org