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/ 09 Feb 2024

Interim Spousal Maintenance: what it is and how to get it

As couples navigate the complex terrain of divorce, financial matters often take centre stage, and interim spousal maintenance can emerge as a crucial lifeline during this transitional period. In legal terms, interim maintenance, also known as ‘maintenance pending suit,’ is a form of financial support provided by one party to the other while divorce proceedings unfold. This article delves into the nuances of interim spousal maintenance, exploring its necessity, application processes, and the pivotal role it plays in ensuring the financial well-being of the dependent spouse.

Elinor Feeny


Family & Divorce

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What is interim spousal maintenance?

Interim maintenance is a type of financial support paid to one party by another whilst financial remedy proceedings within divorce are ongoing.  Spousal means it is for the spouses’ needs to distinguish it from child maintenance which is usually dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). It is also known as ‘maintenance pending suit’.  Given a fully contested financial claim can take in excess of a year to be resolved, and that separation can often have occurred a significant time before the issue of proceedings, it is often needed but not often sought.

Interim maintenance payments will generally help the receiving party pay for accommodation, bills and essential household costs. Payments can be made in various ways such as:

  • Payments into the receiving party’s bank account
  • Payments directly to mortgage lenders, landlords or utility companies

When might interim spousal maintenance be necessary?

If one party was financial dependent on the other, whether partly or completely, and following separation this is reduced or ceases then they would benefit from seeking an interim spousal maintenance agreement or order. It is normally most appropriate when there is significant disparity between both parties net income and/or their ability to meet their reasonable needs.

How to get interim spousal maintenance

Interim maintenance can either be agreed voluntarily between the parties, using methods such as mediation where appropriate, or one of the parties can apply to court for an Interim Maintenance Order. An Interim Maintenance Order is a decision by a judge about how much the interim maintenance payment should be, when and how payments should be made.

To apply for interim maintenance, you now need to issue a separate application to the Form A which issues the separate financial remedy. The genuine needs for interim relief needs to be evidenced and this is usually done by way of a specific statement in support setting out why an order is necessary and providing details of the budget. It would normally be sensible to have filed Form E, so this information is also available to be taken into account.

The extra costs of pursuing this separate claim need to be considered. Interim Maintenance Order applications can be expensive. You will need to consider whether the costs of the application outweigh the benefits. Our divorce solicitors can talk you through the risks and benefits of the application so that you can make an informed decision before you proceed.

How long does an interim maintenance order last?

The interim maintenance order will typically last until the divorce or dissolution has been finalised and financial settlement has been agreed.

Case Law

As with a lot of family law, the case law to provide guidance tends to only cover High Net Worth (HNW) or Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) individuals which can be difficult to apply to middle income cases. However, reported case of Rattan v Kuwad [2021] EWCA Civ 1 provided some more helpful guidance. The Judge, Moylan LJ, sets out that:

“This is an extremely valuable power because it enables the court to make an order to meet the income needs of a spouse and the children at a time when they might be in real need of financial support following the parties’ separation and the commencement of proceedings. It is intended to provide the court with the ability to act expeditiously and to make an order which meets that need at an early stage of the proceedings when the evidential picture might be far from clear. It is a very broad statutory power which extends to the court making such order as the judge “thinks reasonable”.

It was therefore confirmed by the Judge that it is down to the Judge’s discretion as to what is considered ‘reasonable’ and that it is intended to meet ‘immediate’ need. The importance of this case, in overturning a husband’s successful appeal against an interim maintenance order, was that it confirmed that a full forensic exercise is not required. The details contained in the Wife’s Form E of her income needs was considered sufficient in the context of her case.


This case should be seen as encouraging to the financially weaker spouse and that these applications are not just for ‘big money’ cases but there for any cases where a genuine need (and available resources on the other side) can be demonstrated. As ever, however, each case has to be considered on its own merits and the legal costs of the application weighed against what there is potentially to gain in maintenance until final settlement or determination. It also has to be remembered that the court can make costs orders against a party and the normal presumption that each side meets their own legal fees does not apply to a maintenance pending suit hearing.

How can our divorce lawyers help?

It is always important to get advice on this area from specialist family & divorce lawyers who can advise you on whether an order would be appropriate and assist with any negotiation or application. Our team are highly experienced at handling divorce and matrimonial financial matters. Contact us today to discuss the above or any other family law matters in more detail.

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