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The legal term for spousal support is interim aliment (aliment is the old Scottish warrant for financial support). This is not the same as child support.

Many couples make their own arrangements for payment of financial support and these can be put into a legally binding agreement which can then be enforced by the courts. Clients can apply to the court for an order for financial support pending divorce.

Unfortunately, the relevant legislation gives almost no guidance as to what the court should award. There is no formula such as the previous CSA formula applying percentages to net income. The legal test is that it simply has to be reasonable in the circumstances having regards to the means and resources of the parties. A spouse looking for support has to be able to show a clear need for it. Clients need to be told that these interim orders cannot be backdated, incidentally, although it can be agreed by the clients themselves that any payments ordered will be backdated. Such an agreement is not enforceable.

A final order for spousal support can be backdated.

Whether final or just interim, an order for a payment of spousal support lasts until divorce.

The courts are not generally in favour of making awards for spousal support after divorce however. The courts prefer the parties have a clean break and therefore prefer parties consider arrangements such as pension sharing, payment of lump sum, transfer of property and so on.

It is nevertheless possible to claim what is called periodical allowance after divorce but that is very rarely granted these days. It’s likely to be made only in exceptional circumstances and you have to be able to make at least one of the following arguments:-

1. What the law calls “the economic burden” of caring, after divorce, for children should be shared fairly between the parents.

2. You were/are dependent to a very large extent on the financial support of your spouse and therefore you other should be awarded reasonable financial support maintenance so that you adjust over the next three years (maximum, and not incidentally a fixed period) to the loss of that support.

3. You’ll suffer serious financial hardship as a result of the divorce and you need reasonable financial support for a reasonable period of time to alleviate that hardship.

It would seem most spouses looking for post-divorce financial support rely on the second argument. As to how long financial support should continue to be paid, if you rely on the other arguments, you can ask for payment for more than the three years being the maximum applicable when the second argument is relied on.

Contact our Family Law Solicitors Glasgow, Scotland for Spousal Support

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