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Maintenance Matters

The Guide to Periodical Payments upon Divorce and Dissolution of Civil Partnership

FROM £65.00

A user-friendly guide to the reasoning behind, calculation and variation of periodical payments orders in financial remedy proceedings

  • Published: March 2014
  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback / eBook (ePDF) / eBook (ePub) / Online
  • ISBN: 9781846612992
  • Authors/Editors: Andrew Commins
  • Category: Family Law
Periodical payments orders occupy that invidious position between, on the one hand, the endemic inequality of wealth so often revealed upon a family’s separation and, on the other, the ‘clean-break’ rhetoric of equality and self-sufficiency.

This new book provides an accessible, readable and practice-orientated guide to the origins, development, calculation and variation of periodical payments orders in financial remedy proceedings (both upon divorce and the dissolution of civil partnerships).

The text considers the procedural, statutory and case-law context in which substantive, nominal, secured and unsecured orders for periodical payments are made, quantified, varied, subjected to capitalisation, terminated and enforced. It provides assistance on dealing with clean-break, [non]-extendable term and pension-related orders and tackles complex and related issues such as the impact of cohabitation, remarriage, bankruptcy and the use of Duxbury calculations.

The Guide provides analysis of, and commentary on, case authorities and, wherever possible, draws together consistent threads of judicial opinion and guidance. Each chapter also provides a summary of the main points of relevant practice and theory to offer a user-friendly manual for any reader interested in, advising on, pursuing or responding to a claim for a periodical payments order at any stage before or after the instigation of legal proceedings.

Maintenance Matters: A Guide to Periodical Payments upon Divorce and Dissolution of Civil Partnership is an invaluable guide for the practitioner at court or in the office. It is essential reading for solicitors, barristers, mediators, accountants and independent financial advisors alike.
  • How to use The Guide
  • The historical perspective: maintenance, alimony and periodical payments from
    medieval England to modern-day proposals for reform
  • A synopsis: the orders and issues
  • Failure to provide reasonable maintenance
  • Maintenance pending suit
  • Maintenance pending suit, costs allowances and orders for payment in respect of legal services
  • Needs, budgets and expenditure: exaggeration and broad-brushes versus evidence and realism
  • The basics of periodical payments orders: absolutes, game rules and forms
  • The quantification of orders for periodical payments
  • Bonus payments and periodical payments
  • Terminating financial dependency: the immediate and deferred clean break and [non]-extendable term orders
  • Orders for nominal periodical payments: justification and transmutability
  • Bankruptcy and periodical payments
  • The impact of remarriage and cohabitation on orders for periodical payments
  • Duxbury calculations: the fable of the ‘tool’ and the ‘paradox’
  • Orders to provide security for periodical payments
  • Variation, discharge, suspension and revival : quantum and term
  • Capitalisation upon an application to vary a periodical payments order
  • Pension orders and periodical payments: attachment, sharing and interaction
  • Periodical payments for the benefit of a child: school fees, disability expenses, top-up assessments and written agreements
  • Maintenance agreements and MCA 1973, ss 34-35
  • Enforcement of maintenance orders and arrears within England & Wales
  • Appendix
WHEN BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO

Whether you are in a marriage or civil partnership, breaking up is hard to do, especially if money is involved, as it almost invariably is. This book will help practitioners and advisers get to grips more easily with the multifarious aspects of periodical payments – maintenance payments that is – in the financial remedy proceedings which follow on from either divorce, or the dissolution of a civil partnership.

With the changing face of the family court structure, the increasing insistence and reliance on mediation as the first step because of the impact of cuts in legal aid, the opposing parties in a break-up will sometimes resort to non-qualified as well as qualified advisers today, both of whom will find this book very handy as a source of practical advice.

The essential practical value of this book lies in the multiplicity of insights it offers into the complexities of the current legal landscape on ‘maintenance matters.’ Practitioners under pressure will appreciate the precise detail with which Andrew Commins deals with, for example, the calculations and variations relating to periodical payments and orders in financial remedy proceedings.

Throughout the book, the spectre of inequality looms large, referring obviously to financial inequality -- and therefore an imbalance of power -- between warring partners. To this end, the book provides assistance to the hard-pressed practitioner in dealing with the procedural and statutory context involved, with analysis and commentary of case law throughout, elaborated upon by judicial opinion and guidance.

For those doing preliminary or follow-up research, the book contains tables of cases, statutes and statutory instruments and is easily navigable, with a detailed table of contents and an index at the back. Here then is an essential reference tool for solicitors, barristers and mediators as well as accountants, financial advisors and litigants in person.


Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

Watch this review in full


This review cannot do justice to the wealth of material packed into this conveniently sized book. Its chapters, whilst in every respect covering the legal principles and case-law involved, include, to name but a few, advice as to the best approach to maintenance pending suit applications, legal services order applications, compiling maintenance budgets, dealing with claims involving bonus payments, clean break construction, the proof as to and impact of cohabitation of the other spouse, the approach to Duxbury calculations, variation and capitalisation of orders, pension order choices and maintenance enforcement. The book, whilst also covering topics such as child maintenance and support and the impact of bankruptcy, cannot do justice to these substantial aspects, but nevertheless directs the reader, where appropriate, to other areas for assistance. However, in line with its ethos of assisting the reader's understanding of maintenance law and reducing the need for further research, a number of statutes, statutory instrument and procedural rules referred to within the book are conveniently included by appendix.

All in all, the reader will, crucially, not only benefit from the well researched detail within this work but also enjoy the overall presentation of this briefcase size volume; not least, the entertaining historical introduction as to the development of this area of the law to the present day. As a seasoned professional in this area of the law, there are few works of reference which find a place in my own daily practice hold-all – this book however is already there.

Ashley Murray, Barrister, Ashley Murray Chambers, Liverpool 



Maintenance Matters, by counsel Andrew Commins, of St John’s Chambers, Bristol, is a welcome arrival, which fills a long-standing gap in this particular corner of the market. At about 300 pages, with a further 150 pages or so of appendices, containing all the relevant legislative material, this is a comprehensive and thoughtful traversal of the subject.


It is also a useful book, to which the busy practitioner will be able to turn, at short notice, for an answer that is both authoritative and easy to locate, whether it be the solicitor checking the criteria for the making of a legal services order, or counsel searching for that irritatingly elusive piece of dicta, otherwise located at the very back of a crowded mind, which perfectly encapsulates the submission which he/she is minded to make to the court as to whether it is appropriate, or not, to make a nominal spousal maintenance order to cover future risk.

John Stocker, Barrister, 1 Garden Court Family Law Chambers 





Chapter 1

How to Use The Guide
‘One of the frustrations of family law, as well as one of its fascinations, is that no two cases are ever the same. Since the essence of any judicial discretion lies in its application to particular facts, and since each case requires its own resolution, the concept of fairness becomes essentially a matter of judgment’
Purpose and scope

1.1
B v B (Ancillary Relief) [2008] EWCA Civ 284, [2008] 1 WLR 2362, [2008] 2 FLR 1627, [2008] 1 FCR 613, [2008] Fam Law 611, (2008) 152(13) SJLB 29
‘The Guide To …’ (‘The Guide’) is designed to provide an accessible, readable and practice-orientated manual to steer the reader through the many complexities inherent in applying for, advising on and litigating orders for maintenance and periodical payments in family finance cases (‘periodical payments orders’ ). Any assessment of these orders provides a fascinating insight into the peculiarities and inequalities of human relationships and the structures designed by Parliament and developed by judges to manage the financial disorder and uncertainty when those relationships fail. The analysis of periodical payments orders also raises fundamental questions about the legal, socio-economic and moral responsibility (and fairness) of an individual to continue to provide for the financial needs of an ex-partner, and to compensate, or share with, that person any future income and financial resources. Furthermore, periodical payments orders occupy that invidious position between, on the one hand, the endemic inequality of wealth so often revealed upon a family’s separation and, on the other, the ‘clean-break’ rhetoric of equality and self-sufficiency. The Guide has been conceived both to help expose these various tensions and to assist the reader in resolving them by offering analysis, commentary, targeted guidance, and practical assistance.

1.2
Child Support Act 1991
The Guide’s chapters tackle the principal types of periodical payments orders available to parties to a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, and on occasion, children themselves. The Guide also confronts key issues such as the quantification, duration, termination, variation and capitalisation of periodical payments orders. The Guide provides analysis of, and commentary on, case-law and, wherever possible, draws together consistent threads of judicial opinion and guidance. The ultimate purpose is to offer a single point of reference for any reader interested in, advising on, pursuing or responding to a claim for a periodical payments order in any form or at any stage before or after the instigation of legal proceedings.

1.3
The Guide addresses periodical payments orders relevant to parties to a marriage or a civil partnership, unless otherwise specified. However, for ease of reference only, the text assumes to deal with a husband and wife. Periodical payments orders for the benefit of children are dealt with in a separate chapter. Furthermore, unless otherwise indicated, The Guide is directed to the study of unsecured
[1]B v B (Ancillary Relief) [2008] EWCA Civ 284, [2008] 2 FLR 1627, at [54], per Ward LJ.
[2] Or orders for periodical payments.
[3] Given the number of excellent texts covering financial provision upon the death of a partner or spouse and the application of the Child Support Act 1991, The Guide does not cover these topics in any detail.

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