The cost of living crisis and separated couples

Many households are feeling the pinch with increasing prices of fuel, energy and groceries. With average wage growth failing to keep pace with inflation, more and more people are having to change the way they live.

The upcoming summer holidays present another concern for families: the cost of holiday camps has inevitably risen. Many working families are having to juggle working commitments in the search for affordable childcare.

For couples going through a divorce, consideration of the finances is crucial. Immediate issues such as where you will live and who will pay the mortgage, rent or bills will need to be resolved.

It may be necessary for you to continue to live under the same roof while you work towards a final settlement. If one of you moves out, then you will both need to ensure you can afford to pay the outgoings on two households. Without consideration of these costs, mortgage or rent arrears may accrue. Any default in payment could affect your credit rating, which may cause problems if you wish to obtain a loan or mortgage in the future.

What if I cannot afford to meet my outgoings?

Child maintenance

If you have children together you may be able to claim maintenance on your child’s behalf from the other parent. The amount of child maintenance payable can be worked out using the Child Maintenance Service calculator. You can arrange payments and agree the amount between you. If this is not possible the Child Maintenance Service can assist you.

If you are unmarried you can apply to the Court for extra financial provision for your child. This could be to fund living expenses, education or housing costs.

Spousal maintenance

If you are married you may also be entitled to claim maintenance for yourself. Unlike child maintenance, there is no specific formula that applies to spousal maintenance. It is calculated by balancing the income and earnings of each party against their needs. Your income needs will be considered by compiling a list of expenditure on a monthly or annual basis alongside your available income. Your expenditure should be realistic and proportionate to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.


There are benefits which may be available if you are living separately, including single person council tax discount (so long as there is no-one else above the age of 18 years in the house), which means you pay 25% less.

You may be entitled to claim child benefit and/or Universal Credit.

Can I protect maintenance payments from inflation following our divorce?

The Child Maintenance Service will carry out an annual review which will assess the paying parent’s income, benefits, and circumstances, to ensure that the right amount is paid for the next 12 months.

In respect of spousal maintenance, payments should be linked to inflation, which may include an automatic annual variation. This will only occur if provision is made in any court order. Many people forget to apply this each year.

What if my maintenance is no longer enough?

If you are receiving spousal maintenance, then you can try to agree an increase in the payments. Failing this, it may be possible to apply to the Court for an uplift in the payments.

If you haven’t been married, then you can try to agree financial provision for your child. If this is not possible then the Court can make an order for financial provision in appropriate circumstances.

Please contact us to see how we can help you.

Gina Nicolas - EJ Coombs Solicitors

Share this article