My Spouse Holds the Purse Strings…

Rebecca Higgins Blog

Is your spouse the breadwinner? If you are in the process of a divorce this can be a scary position, especially if they have already obtained legal advice and instructed a solicitor. You may feel that there is no way you can afford a solicitor, and feel pressured by your spouse just to ‘sign and move on’.

This is the crucial point where you NEED to seek legal advice. We offer a free 30 minute consultation so you can be sure you have all the facts before deciding to instruct us. If funding your legal costs are a concern, there are options open to you.

Legal Services Orders

The courts can order a spouse or civil partner to make payment of the other party’s legal costs. This is known as a Legal Services Order, and is available in proceedings for divorce and financial remedy proceedings.

The factors the court will consider before making such an order include:-

  • Whether the court is satisfied that to not grant the order would mean the Applicant would not reasonably be able to obtain legal services for the purposes of the proceedings; and
  • The Applicant is not reasonably likely to be able to secure a loan for such services (this can be evidenced with loan refusal documentation from credible lending institutions); and
  • The Applicant is unlikely to be able to obtain legal services by granting a charge over assets recovered in the proceedings – case law in this area has already established that the court would not expect you to sell or charge your home or to deplete a modest fund of savings.

If the court does make the order, it may also vary the order at any point of the proceedings is there is a material change of circumstances since the order was made, for example one party has lost their job, or inherited money.

Maintenance Pending Suit

If your spouse has previously supported you financially, and then withdraws this support, you can make an application to the court for Maintenance Pending Suit (MPS), to ensure they continue to provide the financial support you need.

This application can only be made within financial remedy proceedings, and if granted, your spouse will make monthly payments towards your living costs. The amount of the award will vary and be dependent on your current and previous circumstance.

In order to assess if MPS is appropriate, the court will ask both parties to submit a detailed breakdown of their monthly income, which will include payments in respect of benefits, employment income and child maintenance. It will also expect the Applicant to have maximised their income if there is potential to do so, such as applying for additional state benefits.

It will then be a case of balancing the monies required to meet the shortfall between your income and reasonable outgoings, and ensuring the other party can afford to pay such a sum after satisfying their own reasonable outgoings.

MPS is not a long-term award, and is intended to address short term cash flow issues, and if ongoing maintenance is required this will take place in the form of Spousal Maintenance Payments, which continue after the divorce has been finalised.

If you would like to discuss any of the above with us call our Harrogate office on 01423 637 272 or our Liversedge office on 01274 861 096 to arrange a free 30 minute consultation appointment.