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I have to pay my ex-spouse monthly spousal maintenance pursuant to a Court Order and I can no longer afford to pay. Can I stop paying?

Maintenance Orders embodied in a Court Order are variable. If you have lost a very large part of your income, then the Courts ought to take that into consideration when looking at a Court Application to reduce or end spousal maintenance payments. The outcome of any Court Application will, however, depend on a number of factors.

Technically, you should not just stop paying or reduce the maintenance payments, as your ex-spouse could then make an Application to Court for enforcement and payment of the arrears. You could ask the Court to forego you having to pay those arrears if you had evidence to prove that you could not make the payments, however, the Court will need to take a fair approach and you should not assume this request will be agreed.

You should first try to negotiate a reduction or termination of the maintenance with your ex-spouse, either directly or through a Solicitor. If this is possible, you should obtain a Court Order reflecting that agreement. Where a sensible compromise cannot be reached, a Court Application may be necessary.