Guide to spousal maintenance

What is spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is a regular payment made by a former partner to their ex-partner if the relationship breaks down. It is only paid when one partner is unable to support themselves financially.

The amount received depends on:

  • How much money an ex-partner needs to live on
  • How much income they already have
  • How much they could potentially earn in the future

Do I have to pay spousal maintenance?

Often this depends upon the length of the marriage. When the marriage has lasted less than five years, it may not be paid at all, or only be paid for a short period. This is known as a ‘term order.’

However, when the marriage has lasted for a long time and the ex-partner is unable to work, it can be paid for life. This is known as a ‘joint lives’ maintenance agreement. While this type of agreement is still a possibility, it is becoming increasingly rare.

When does spousal maintenance stop?

Any spousal maintenance payments usually end in the following circumstances:

  • The fixed term order ends.
  • You are both able to draw on pension income which is sufficient to maintain yourselves financially.
  • Either one of you dies.
  • The person receiving spousal maintenance remarries or enters a civil partnership.

Can spousal maintenance payments be insured?

Spousal maintenance payments can be insured, so that if an ex-partner dies, the remaining partner continues to receive the payments. The easiest way to do this is to take out a life insurance policy on an ex-partner, which provides either a lump sum or regular payments in the event of their death.



If you are struggling with the impact of divorce and separation, we offer a no obligation initial consultation for a fixed fee of £100 (incl. VAT), for up to one hour. At this meeting, we can advise you on all the issues relating to your personal circumstances, allowing you to make informed decisions moving forward.

To book an appointment please call 01444 472700, email us at or complete the form below.

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