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Digby Brown Family Law

Ongoing financial support after divorce in Scotland

11 January 2017 by Roger MacKenzie

 

One of the most stressful situations for someone facing divorce can be where they suffer from ill health or infirmity which has left them financially reliant on their husband or wife.

 

This can also apply where people get divorced at a later stage in life and where perhaps it is more difficult to get back on the career ladder.

 

A spouse has an obligation to maintain their husband or wife while they remain married. There is a duty to provide aliment, which might take the form of a monthly allowance. Or one party could agree that the other will keep meeting all the household bills and provide an amount on top of that to cover other monthly outgoings.

 

It can be a good idea to both draw up a schedule of income and outgoings at an early stage.

Sometimes a court will have to decide what represents a reasonable amount to pay in the circumstances, but usually people can agree, each with the help of a solicitor who knows about family law, what is fair in any situation.

 

It is also important to look into what benefits might be available after separation.

Spousal maintenance after a divorce

On divorce, the obligation to maintain a spouse will sometimes end completely, or will expire after 3 years. This reflects the desire to achieve what is sometimes referred to as the clean break principle.

 

But there is an exceptional category of cases where a court could order long term financial support to be paid.

Splitting assets

First of all, there has to be a division of the matrimonial property. This would include things like equity in property and pensions accrued during marriage.

 

While assets are usually split on an equal basis, one party’s inability to work might allow an argument to be made for them to receive more than a 50% share.

Long term ongoing maintenance

Even if one party receives half or more than half of the assets, if the divorce is going to cause them financial hardship, a court could also decide that they should be provided with ongoing maintenance (known as periodical allowance) for a longer period of time.  While not commonplace in divorce settlements in Scotland, long term support can assist in alleviating financial distress in limited circumstances.

 

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