Court applications to vary maintenance payments
How much maintenance should I pay?
Here you are looking at going back to court to secure a new order dealing with the maintenance payments.
There is uncertainty. The court has a free hand as to what to do. It may approach matters in the same way or a different way.
So predicting precisely what will happen is not usually possible.
- There are costs involved in the process. It may well be intrusive and it will take time and effort. Sometimes the atmosphere between the parties is difficult which may make settling the case harder (and mean that it will run longer through the process, increasing the costs).
The new order may increase or reduce the amount of the maintenance payments and so getting the best input possible as to the strength of your case (either at court or in the negotiations) is a crucial first task.
Step 1: find the order
Find the original court document - “the order” - and study what parts of it remain outstanding. Usually your lawyer will have provided you with this and if not you can usually obtain a copy from the court.
Step 2: the situation at the time
You can’t ask for a variation of the maintenance payments without showing that there has been a change of circumstance. So the first step is to prove what the situation was when the first order was made, so you can establish whether there has been a change of circumstances.
- Where your order was made by agreement without a court attendance, almost always, there will be a “statement of information” or “form D081”. Ideally find this or again get a copy from the court.
Where the order was made at court (for example at a final hearing or at a financial dispute resolution hearing) then there may be no such document. However, your lawyers will have summarised the financial aspects of the award and you may have a copy of this document. If not try to get the information from your solicitor if you had one.
Step 3: the situation now
It is obviously harder to piece together the situation now – whilst you will know your own finances, you may know much less about the other party’s situation – but think through what you do know and what you can be reasonably sure about … the better the information, the clearer the advice can be at stage 4 and the easier it should be to make a decision about what to do for the best.
Stage 4: advice
Now you are equipped to get advice. Going back to the solicitor or barrister who helped you may be a good choice. Others may prefer to get a new view.
At Family Law in Partnership, we know that any new application must be fully justified in terms of the scale of the likely benefits and the costs of securing them. We aim to provide an efficient and economic assessment of the prospects of success.