What can I do if I need financial support before my divorce is complete?
Many people are wary of starting divorce proceedings because they know that any order the court makes for much-needed financial support won’t be effective until the decree absolute is granted at the end of the process.
However, there are measures in place for parties to access short term financial support from their spouse whilst the divorce is in progress.
Maintenance Pending Suit
Maintenance Pending Suit (MPS) is the name for short term financial support granted by the court upon the application of either party to the divorce (so not just the person applying for divorce) at any time between the application for divorce being made and the divorce being finalised by way of decree absolute being granted. If the court feels a case is properly made out for MPS to be granted, the order it makes will be put in place until decree absolute is granted at which time an order for ancillary relief (longer term financial support) will become effective.
Unlike ancillary relief applications, where the court has a list of factors to consider, in an MPS application the court only has to consider reasonableness, which in legal terms essentially means fairness – a very broad concept taking in all aspects of the matter. This will include the resources of each party, their financial commitments and the pre-separation standard of living.
MPS is for day-to-day living costs such as housing expenses, food, etc. It is not intended to cover a party’s legal costs or maintenance for children as there are separate applications which can be made in relation to these.
Any party seeking MPS must submit a Form E to the court unless they’ve already done so as part of ancillary relief proceedings. Form E details a party’s financial situation and will be used by the court to assess their resources and needs for the purposes of the MPS decision.
A similar application to MPS exists for those going through a civil partnership dissolution: Maintenance Pending Outcome.
Anyone seeking MPS must bear in mind that their application is not guaranteed to be successful and expert advice should be taken from a solicitor as to whether making an application is cost effective given the resources of both parties and how close the divorce is to conclusion.
It is vital that a solicitor be consulted as MPS is a financial application based on multiple factors meaning that every case needs unique, tailor-made advice. Two applications for financial support with broadly similar circumstances may have different outcomes due to the details of the case. Only a family law solicitor can give you a realistic assessment of your chances of success, thereby allowing you to make an informed decision on whether or not to proceed with an application to court.
What should you do if you think you need Maintenance Pending Suit?
If you think MPS would help you then get in touch with us as soon as you can. We can advise what you might be entitled to and whether an application is likely to succeed. We know finances can be stretched when you are going through big life changes like a separation so we work efficiently to keep our charges as low as possible while providing you with the kind of high quality, personalised service every client deserves.