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Calculating interim spousal maintenance

08 April 2011

We acted for the Husband in the relatively modest case. The Wife and two children were remaining in the former matrimonial home and the Husband had moved out into rented accommodation. The Wife was very keen to remain in the property with the children despite the fact that she could have rehoused more modestly in a property that would still have met her reasonable needs. Our client was prepared to agree to her staying in the property provided she could afford to pay all the outgoings on it both now and in the future. His argument was that if she did rehouse more modestly not only would it have the advantage of releasing him from the mortgage but it would also mean that she would more likely be able to afford to maintain a more modest property; there was a concern that the former matrimonial home would become a millstone around her neck.

The Wife sought Interim Spousal Maintenance; this is maintenance over and above the child maintenance paid by one spouse to another to help with the household bills. We put an argument forward that the Wife could not have it both ways, either she could afford to live in the property or she couldn’t; if she couldn’t afford to live in the property then it would need to be sold. In any event after we had challenged her outgoings and reduced them to what the Court is likely to consider a reasonable amount, there was no shortfall between her income from all sources (including benefits and child maintenance) and what we believed to be her reasonable outgoings. Her claim for Interim Spousal Maintenance therefore failed at the first hurdle. We then used the client’s application for Interim Spousal Maintenance in submissions supporting our argument as to why the former matrimonial home should be sold. The Judge accepted our argument that the Wife could rehouse more modestly and ordered an immediate sale of the property. This meant that our client was removed from the mortgage upon the sale of the property and this enabled him to purchase his own property and get his own mortgage.