Maintenance pending suit (MPS) applications are applications made for maintenance on an interim basis after the issue of the divorce petition but before the Court deals with a full blown financial application.
The Family Court’s powers to order interim support is limited to its power to make maintenance pending suit orders under section 22 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and legal services payments orders under section 22ZA.
When you do not receive sufficient monies from your estranged husband or wife and cannot wait for the final hearing of any application to deal with finances, you may consider an application for MPS. Such hearings are held much sooner than a hearing for the ‘main’ financial issues. However, such applications are not common. The usual presumption that each party bears their own costs in family cases does not apply to these applications. Therefore if you do decide to make such an application which is successful, then you are able to ask the Judge to make an order that your estranged husband or wife does pays the costs of your application.
The most recent decision of note in respect of MPS is the case of BD v FD (2014) which emphasises the purpose of an MPS application is to address immediate needs.
Other factors to be considered when making such an application are:
- The Court can order one spouse to pay to the other MPS that it thinks is reasonable i.e. the amount which it thinks is fair;
- When considering what is fair, an important factor is the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage;
- There should be a budget which the Judge carefully examines to avoid exaggeration or the inclusion of capital expenditure;
- Where the potential payer fails to provide proper or full information as to his or her financial position, the Court should err in favour of the payee, and should not hesitate in making robust assumptions about the payer’s true income
Any order for MPS must state how much should be paid periodically until Decree Absolute. The payments have to be made directly to the spouse. They cannot be paid indirectly as part of a mortgage payment or something similar.
If you wish to discuss a possible application for MPS or have any queries with regard to the breakdown of your marriage do not hesitate to give RJT Solicitors a call on 01257 228027. We offer 30 minutes free consultation.