When parties divorce and the Courts become involved in resolving financial disputes, they can order that one party to the marriage pays the other spousal maintenance for a period of time, via a Periodical Payments Order (PPO).
A PPO is often ordered where one party to the marriage earns less than the other and the Court is satisfied that the weaker financial party needs to have their income supplemented by maintenance or periodical payments. In this situation the higher earning party would be ordered to pay the lesser earning party a set amount each month. For example, a Judge may order that a Wife must pay her Ex-husband £500 per month, to ensure that they have roughly the same income.
However, where there is a dramatic change in financial circumstances, it may no longer be appropriate for the Wife to continue to pay this amount. For example, one of the parties might have lost their job, be remarrying or have inherited a considerable sum of money.
Where there is a significant change in circumstances, an application can be made to vary the Order.
If you believe that there has been a significant change, the first step is always to try to come to an agreement with the other party. If both parties can agree to the change, this avoids the need for any litigation, which can be lengthy, costly and uncertain.
Where an agreement cannot be reached, applications to vary a PPO can be made at Court using a fast track procedure. This means that, assuming the issues are not complex, the application could be dealt with at one hearing. Parties wishing to apply to vary a PPO using this procedure have to complete the necessary forms (which are available on the Government website) and send them to the Court which issued their divorce. If you are in any doubt as to how to make such an application, you should contact a family law solicitor who will be able to provide advice.
If you would like assistance in making an application, or would like more general advice on Divorce, Finances or another aspect of family law, please contact our Family Department who will be happy to help: email@example.com.