If your employer has placed you on Furlough you may be concerned about how you are going to afford to cover your usual outgoings as well as any maintenance you have been paying to your former spouse.
The Furlough scheme enables employers to retain staff on their payroll whilst they are unable to operate or have no work for them to do.
Employers can claim a government grant for up to 80% of the employee’s monthly earnings for the next three months, up to £2,500 per month (which is then subject to the usual tax). Do you have to keep paying maintenance?
If you are on Furlough but your salary is being topped up by your employer so that the net amount you receive is very close to your usual salary, then you will need to continue to pay spousal maintenance in the usual way.
If your income has reduced by 20% or more then you may need to consider seeking a variation of an order, or voluntary agreement, for spousal maintenance.
There is no set formula for the way the courts decide on levels of spousal maintenance and Judges focus on meeting needs first before considering whether a sharing of any surplus is appropriate. As a general rule, spousal maintenance payments are awarded when the financially weaker spouse cannot meet their income needs from their own resources providing the other spouse has surplus income from which to meet these needs.
When considering an application for variation a Judge will look at both yours and your former spouses’ financial circumstances. If the level of maintenance can be adjusted so as to balance your competing needs and without undue hardship on either side, then a variation is likely to be appropriate. If either of you have other resources available to you then the Judge is likely to consider whether these should be utilised as part of the balancing process. The Judge will also consider whether you are both maximising your earning capacity.
There may also be other forms of financial assistance available i.e. mortgage or rent holidays, to reduce outgoings, which will need to be considered.
Spousal maintenance and coronavirus lockdown
As there is a significant amount of uncertainty about the duration of the current lockdown and the long-term economic impact of the virus it would be sensible to consider a short-term variation which could be kept under review as the situation unfolds. It will be more cost effective and proportionate to do this by agreement and without court involvement where possible. It is recommended that any variation is recorded formally to prevent arrears being sought in the future.
Specialist family law solicitors
If you, or anyone you know, are struggling with the impact of the lock down on spousal maintenance and existing child arrangements, our specialist family and children law solicitors are available to help you.