Have you separated and agreed to pay your ex-spouse or civil partner maintenance as part of a final agreement, or to pay interim maintenance whilst you negotiate an overall financial settlement?
Have you entered in to an agreement to pay your ex-spouse or civil partner a lump sum by instalments?
Have you agreed with your ex-spouse or civil partner by consent, or by way of a Court Order, a financial provision for your children?
If any of the above echoes the reality of your circumstances and due to the current health pandemic your income has taken a downward spiral or your investments and future long terms financial security are now looking precarious, you may now have real concerns as to whether you can actually afford to meet the payment under the terms of the agreement or Court Order. In the circumstances, you may now be able to revisit the agreement/Order and look to vary its terms.
The following Orders can be varied with the Court:
- Maintenance pending suit or any interim maintenance Order you have agreed
- Periodical payments and secured periodical payments
- Lump sums by instalments.
- Provision for children under Schedule 1 Children Act 1989
The following Orders cannot be varied with the Court:
- An Order for a lump sum or sums not payable by instalments
- Property adjustment Order
- A pension sharing Order after the decree has been made absolute.
When making an application to vary an Order, a Court will first consider any change in the facts to which the Court had regard in making the original Order. The Court will also factor in all of the other criteria, known as the section 52 criteria. Unless there has been a significant change of circumstances, it’s unlikely that a Court would agree to variation.
We would expect the current COVID-19 pandemic to impact significantly upon an individual’s finances and would therefore anticipate this falling within the definition of ‘significant changes’ for the purposes of an application to Court.
In addition to taking expert legal advice with regards to your significant change in financial circumstances and the impact this may have on your ability to comply with maintenance or other financial orders, you may also want to consider whether the overall financial agreement that you have recently reached with your ex is possible of being set aside due to the current pandemic and its impact on your assets/investments financial circumstances.