05 Mar I have no money – how can I afford to get divorced?
For many people whose marriage has broken down the prospect of separation and divorce is clouded in financial uncertainty.
They may have little or no income of their own, being reliant upon their spouse for financial support. How will they be able to manage without that support?
They may want to take divorce proceedings, and within those proceedings ask the court to sort out arrangements for finances and any dependent children. They do not want to do this without the assistance of a solicitor, but how can they afford a solicitor? Legal aid is not available to help.
But there may be a way to get financial help, both for their legal costs and their own immediate financial needs.
Maintenance Pending Suit
When someone separates from a spouse who is supporting them it is highly likely that the spouse will reduce or curtail that support. The most pressing issue for them is therefore replacing that support, so that they can meet their financial needs.
But how can they do this?
They can ask the court to make a maintenance order in their favour in any final financial remedies order within the divorce proceedings, but it can be many months before a final order is made. How do they manage in the meantime?
The answer could be to apply to the court for Maintenance Pending Suit (‘MPS’).
MPS is a temporary maintenance order, which can be made at any time after divorce proceedings have been commenced, and which lasts until a final financial remedies order has been made.
As MPS can be needed urgently, the court will not look in detail at the parties’ finances, instead concentrating just upon the applicant’s immediate needs and their spouse’s readily available income, and taking into account in particular the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage.
If it becomes apparent when the final order is made that the MPS order was too high or too low, then an appropriate adjustment can be made to the final order.
Legal Services Payment Orders
But what about the legal costs of sorting out arrangements for finances and children? When considering an MPS application the court does not include their legal costs as part of the applicant’s needs. How can they afford to pay those costs?
A possible answer here may be to apply to the court for a Legal Services Payment Order (‘LSPO’), often done simultaneously with the MPS application. An LSPO is an order requiring one party to a marriage to pay to the other an amount in the form of a costs allowance, for the purpose of enabling the applicant to obtain legal services for the purposes of the proceedings.
An LSPO can take the form of a one-off payment, or payments for a specified period of time. It will usually be initially limited to only cover the applicant’s legal costs up to a certain point in the proceedings, after which it may be reconsidered by the court.
Before making an LSPO the court must be satisfied that, without it, the applicant would not reasonably be able be able to obtain appropriate legal services. This includes not being able to finance the legal services by some other means.
In deciding whether to make an LSPO the court will take into account a number of factors, including the incomes and financial needs of the parties, the subject matter of the proceedings and what is at stake, and the effect of the order on the paying party.
Finally, the payment(s) that the applicant receivesunder an LSPO can be taken into account at the end of the case, when a final financial remedies order is made. This means that the applicant may have to payback to the other party some or all of LSPO payments, out of what the court awards them in thefinancial settlement.
We offer a fixed fee, instalment plan to make the divorce process easier on your pocket.