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Spouse Maintenance

What is the correct level of spouse maintenance?

Many divorce cases involve detailed arguments about what level of maintenance should be paid. Various factors are taken into account in assessing the level to include resources and needs but in assessing need what part is played by the standard of living during the marriage?

The High Court has recently considered this point is the case of BD v BD (2016). The judge expressed the view that “need” should be considered in the light of the marital standard of living but that in considering that point the standard of living is to be regarded as neither ceiling nor floor but as a benchmark starting point from which to begin the assessment. The duration of the marriage which is included in standard of living is relevant so that in a longer marriage case the permanence of the standard of living should be more reflected in the end assessment.

One of the issues to be addressed will be that one party may allege that the other was either profligate or in the alternative miserly. The court may have to make findings about that but if one or the other is true to a significant degree the court might regard it as “conduct” to be taken into account in assessing the overall figure to be ordered.

Ian Stirzaker


Ian is the Senior Partner and Head of Family Law at SME Solicitors. Please contact him or Joanna Gardner for specialist help and advice in all aspects of family law at or

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Added: 11 Aug 2016 12:41

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