Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Family Lore Clinic: Can court ordered maintenance be changed?

I promise I haven't made it up, but this question flows perfectly from my last Clinic post, in which I discussed index-linking of maintenance orders. As I stated there, if the maintenance is not index-linked, then the only way to get it changed is to apply to the court for it to be varied, or to agree a variation with the other party.

The main point is that a maintenance order is not written in stone, unchangeable for the duration of the order. A maintenance order can be varied at any time, and the essential requirement for a variation is that there has been a change in the circumstances (of either or both parties) since the order was made. The most common changes are that the paying party's income has increased or decreased.

Note that, as well as varying the amount of the order, the court can do other things including suspending the order temporarily, discharging it, limiting its duration or replacing it with a lump sum order.

(As usual, this is necessarily a simplification of the law. If you require more details or specific advice, including advice as to the procedure on a variation application, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.)

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