For a lot of people once the financial settlement has been dealt with they assume that this is the end of the issues relating to divorce. 

Generally it comes as a relief that matters have been settled.  Both parties can start to rebuild their lives and for those who have been able to achieve a clean break settlement then it is most likely the end however, for those who continue to pay or receive Spousal Maintenance that is not always the case. 

Spousal Maintenance may be paid for a period of time, with the Court reserving the power to extend that period – or not as the case may be.  In some cases maintenance will have no end date and will only be stopped on the orders of the Court or on the death of the payer or the payee. 

 If, as time goes by one of the parties wishes to end the maintenance arrangement there are various ways that this can be done:-

  1. By mutual consent,
  2. By making an application to the Court.  This is not a recommended route as it can be extremely costly. 

 Also under Section 31 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 a party who is in receipt of maintenance can apply to the Court for a lump sum or capital instead of continuing payments.  This can on occasions be a very attractive prospect particularly if the recipient is involved in another relationship which if it turns into marriage would mean the maintenance would end.  Applications under Section 31 are often made in response to an application to vary maintenance downwards or to terminate it. 

 If you are about to settle your case on a continuing maintenance basis you should bear in mind that Section 31 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 is an alternative option to you as time goes on. 


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