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Both parties may agree upon the payment of a lump sum in lieu of future maintenance.

Or they may agree that the time has simply come for the order to end, with the spouse who had been receiving support now able to manage alone.

Remarriage will always end a claim for maintenance, but not for capital – for example, your share in the former marital home, if this has not already been resolved. In the interests of fairness, the courts need to carry out a detailed analysis of the family’s net worth, and also to assess how and when that worth was acquired.

If that wealth is determined to be “matrimonial” it should be shared between the parties; but if it is “non-matrimonial” it could be excluded from the settlement.

If you have more than one child, car or property, a separate budget can be prepared for each if necessary.

This means that the separate costs can be identified far more easily and clearly displayed.

Once basic needs have been met, how will the courts divide any assets left over?

When drawing up a financial settlement following divorce, the courts will take a long hard look at each spouse’s future earning capacity and may set this against their needs for financial support – ie maintenance – both before and after retirement.

For example, can you go out to work if you haven’t worked for the last 10 years? Can you work if there are young children to look after?

Much depends on the judge and the facts of the case, but it certainly makes sense to contribute towards your own cost of living if you are the dependent partner.

The court will also take new relationships into account.

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