Can a spousal maintenance order be varied in the future?

Following a divorce, the court has a variety of different powers to divide the couple’s finances and assets.  Usually a financial order would be in ‘full and final settlement’ of all claims and there would be very limit circumstances where a variation of the settlement could be considered.

However, if the court has ordered a periodical payment order (also known as spousal maintenance) whereby one party is to pay the other a monthly sum to meet their income needs, either party can apply to the court to vary the terms of the periodical payment orders, as long as there is not a time limited bar that has passed.

It may be that circumstances have changed so the recipient partner needs a higher monthly sum, or conversely that the paying partner believes that the recipient partner needs a lower monthly sum because the receiving party now have a higher income from other sources.  It may be the case that the paying partner can no longer afford to pay because of a change in their circumstances.  In these situations, a variation application could be lodged and the parties can explain to the Court why the original amount of spousal maintenance is no longer meeting needs and/or no longer appropriate.

A hearing will usually be listed and parties would be required to provide updated financial disclosure. The court will consider whether the recipient parties “needs” have changed and whether a variation to the original order is justified. 

A party lodging a variation application should be aware of the potential cost consequences if unsuccessful in their application, that the unsuccessful party runs the risk of paying the successful parties costs.

Our family solicitors are based in Wolverhampton, Cradley Heath, and Sutton Coldfield and serve clients across the West Midlands. For all new enquiries, complete our online enquiry form, and a member of our team will respond. Alternatively, you can call us directly at 01902 328 355. We're here to provide the legal support you need to protect your rights and secure your future.