Following a marriage breaks down, it is often of great concern to the party who may have been dependent upon the other party in terms of income, as to what will happen to that income while they are waiting for a resolution of their overall finances.

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If one party leaves the family home and secures temporary, rented accommodation elsewhere, the overall running costs of the family will increase to meet the expenses associated with the second property. This may be in addition to the existing family home outgoings, for example, mortgage payments.

There may be no available income to meet the cost of the second property or, if the costs of the second property are met in full, to continue to maintain the family home and all of its associated expenses (including that of the spouse and any children). In those circumstances, parties are often left having to dip into their savings (capital) to meet those needs.

The breadwinner may leave the family income and not contribute at all during the interim period. If this happens, the other party must prepare a detailed budget setting out precisely what is required on an interim basis until all financial claims have been resolved. In preparing this, it is important to identify what is required to meet these interim needs (rather than a full-blown budget which might include longer-term expenditures which would normally be dealt with as part of substantive claims).

It is always advisable to seek to agree on any interim arrangements without involving the courts however we understand that is not always possible and an application to court may be necessary. The court does have the power to make an order for interim maintenance and this is known as a maintenance pending suit. Such an order is designed to deal with short-term expenses and cashflow problems that arise upon separation and during the conduct of the divorce proceedings.

The purpose of an interim hearing is to ensure that the financially weaker party has sufficient resources to meet their needs and to meet them in such a way that it does not prejudice their longer-term position or place them at a significant disadvantage. If any children are privately educated, school fees can be included within the income needs and form part of an application for interim maintenance.

However, such applications can be expensive, and consideration needs to be given to the benefits of reaching a settlement about the issue of interim maintenance rather than going through the delay and expense of a hearing on this issue. It is vital that parties put forward very timely and well-structured offers to settle as this places pressure on the other party to accept the offer or they run the risk of it having to be determined by the court or an order for costs being made against them.

We advise early, specialist legal advice before embarking upon such an application. If you would like to speak to an expert family lawyer, call us on 0191 500 0777.