Aliment & Periodical Allowance
Not many of the traditional wedding vows would stand up in court nowadays - in fact, trying to enforce the duty of your spouse to “obey” you would be likely to result in a conviction and a fine.
The one exception is the duty that, after entering into marriage, you agree to ‘keep’ the other side. Many people do not realise that this lasts beyond the point of separation, right up until the divorce is granted, and sometimes beyond.
But it’s not automatic, and unlike Child Maintenance, the Government will not enforce it for you.
If payments of Aliment are not made voluntarily, then the first step should be a carefully-considered approach in writing – backed up by the threat of a court action if that does not generate any response.
A Claim Open To All
The alimentary duty is not determined by gender, it’s irrelevant whether it’s a man or a woman, or in a same-sex marriage. It’s also irrelevant who ‘caused’ the marriage to end – financial awards are not made on the basis of who left who or who was right or wrong.
The only criteria for the Sheriff Court are ‘need’ and ‘resources’. Who has the greater need, and who has the means by which to meet that? In a separation the big financial impact is usually going from one household being run to two.
If one spouse is working and the other is not, then there may be an imbalance that a payment of monthly Aliment would address. There are likely to be two mortgages, two sets of council tax, utility bills, shopping etc.
The Sheriff would expect each side to get used to a certain lifestyle reduction – the full Sky package, the Friday night pints or the weekly trip to the Nail Bar may have to go. But a spouse should not be getting into debt just getting by when their wife or husband is able to put away part of their salary for a rainy day.
The degree of financial support expected is only “reasonable” – that would not include paying for holidays, but chipping in for school fees may be something the court would enforce.
Who Earns What?
As well as resources, the court would also look at earning capacity – these days someone who was formerly a “kept woman” would be expected to make efforts to find employment, although if there are young children, that may not make financial sense to do so after the cost of childcare has been factored in.
Usually the court would order a monthly payment, and that would run until the divorce has been granted – in most cases at least a year after the date of separation, often two or more. It can therefore act as a powerful incentive to the one who is making the aliment payments to get the divorce over the line.
But the duty may not end there - on granting divorce, the court also has discretion to award a Periodical Allowance, where it has heard evidence that one spouse was financially dependent on the other, and that it is impractical to an award a lump sum of cash or transfer a property (e.g. if borrowing is not available).
There is a limit however – if the person receiving the payments has wandered down the aisle for a second time and remarried, then nothing further is due.
Contact our Family Law Solicitors Glasgow & Edinburgh, Scotland
Beltrami & Company are conveniently based near Glasgow city centre but operate throughout Scotland. Any calls to our offices out with normal business hours can be dealt with by an experienced solicitor.