This is a separate question from maintenance for children, which for most families comes down to the CSA/ CMS formula. The Child Support Agency (rebadged as the Child Maintenance Service) applies a fairly straightforward formula. They have an online calculator, and there’s more information about this subject on my website.
Maintenance for husbands/wives is a separate and more nuanced question. There is no short answer, and you need to take advice from a solicitor who specialises in financial issues arising from divorce.
The first thing to say is that it is only an issue in reasonably well-off families. If your income is less than say £40,000-£50,000 per annum, then you’re probably not going to be required to pay maintenance for your husband/wife apart from any child support.
The second thing to say is that that there is no underlying assumption that fairness means your income should be shared equally after you separate, or that your former husband/wife can expect to continue the standard of living s/he enjoyed during the marriage.
To establish a claim for maintenance s/he needs to show a need for money (which is often not difficult) and that the need arises from some choice (voluntary or otherwise) made during the marriage – for example a decision to have children. Where that causal link cannot be shown, there will be a small maintenance commitment at most.
But where that link can be shown assessment of the amount of maintenance payable, comes down to a fairly nuanced assessment of the money available, and the parties' respective needs. This means you are going to have to produce a detailed budget. Preparing your budget requires care, and advice from a good solicitor, because on the one hand you don’t want to sell yourself short, but on the other hand, it is very difficult to argue that your former husband/wife needs significantly less to live on than you do.
There is also a cross-reference to the payer's income and ability to pay. Most judges would disagree with this statement but, in reality, where a maintenance order is made most of them seem to come in either side of one third of the payer's income, including any commitment to child support. So that is the figure you should be aiming for.
You should arrange to speak to John Pratley, our specialist divorce solicitor at Apple Tree Family Law about your own situation. He can guide you through these issues, and negotiate on your behalf, or be by your shoulder as you go through mediation. He can usually offer an appointment within 24 hours.
John Pratley is an expert divorce lawyer, who has more than 25 years experience advising clients purely about divorce and related family law issues, such as the financial consequences of separating and divorcing. After establishing the first niche family law practice in Bristol, and going on to senior management roles in a national firm, John set up Apple Tree Family Law in 2018. Apple tree family Law solicitors specialise in advice about divorce and financial issues.
We are based in Bristol and Exeter, but we have clients all over the UK and further afield. We offer, simply, clear and accurate advice about divorce and family law issues, and the very best client service, for a clear and reasonable price.