Automatic Changes  Variations include
inflation RPI/CPI

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Court Applications Returning to court to for a new order.

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Types of order Types of order that may be involved

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Relevant factors affecting maintenance awards

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Types of maintenance payment order


Types of maintenance payment order that may be involved


          International arrangements

Maintenance payments between spouses

Such arrangements must end if the recipient remarries.

  • The original order may set out various events that will terminate the maintenance payment order.

  • Otherwise almost anything is now possible by agreement or court order.

For example

Maintenance payments could go up.

They might come down.

  • They might terminate at a later date, with or without a payment or a pension adjustment.

  • Conditions to continued receipt of maintenance payments might be imposed.

  • The structure of the maintenance payments might be changed (for example, from a set sum into a banded one, with different rates over different layers of income).

  • It may be an opportunity to put arrangements in place in case the payer dies during the maintenance payment period.



Looking at the original court order is crucial.  Common arrangements are:

  • Immediate termination – the order has already provided for the termination of the maintenance payments.
  • “Joint lives” – there will be a duty to pay until the first spouse dies.
  • Delayed termination, which is of two sorts:
    •              1. The order will end on a specific date unless an order is made to extend the arrangement beforehand.               Making an application to do so in good time will be crucial.
    •             2. An order with a prohibition on applying to extend (called a “section 28(1A) bar”).

    Child Maintenance Payments

    These arrangements are often highly technical because two organisations might be involved and the interface between them can be problematic:

      • the court may have made an order, for child maintenance payments.
      • but for most people, there is the opportunity to involve the CMS too.
      • and where this is done, the CMS will operate its rough-and-ready formula which will trump the court order and usually     terminate it for all purposes.
      • Various sorts of structures may have been used in the original order to protect against that happening and leave the obligation within the court system (which may or may not work).
      • The CMS usually falls away again, usually (roughly speaking) at the end of August after A-levels and then responsibility is    passed back to the courts.
      • Against this confused structure there is encouragement to reach your own agreement.


    • It will be crucial to establish whether there is a right to apply to the CMS as this will operate to terminate the court order after a short delay.

    • Such rights are likely to exist where:
          The court order was made after 3rd March 2003.
      •     The child and parents are in the UK.
      •     A claim could be made for child benefit for the child (ie university children are excluded).
      •     The payer is the parent of the child (rather than a step-parent, for example).
    •     There are also complex rules about how long payments can last.


    For in-depth advice about Varying Maintenance Payments please click here to contact Family Law in Partnership