‘A Practical Guide to Spousal Maintenance – Second Edition’ by Liz Cowell


Paperback: 978-1-916698-16-1
Published: October 2023
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SKU: B0311 SPOUSALMAINTENANCE 2 Categories: , Tags: , ,


This book provides the context as to why the Family Court in England and Wales approaches awards of maintenance in the way that it does. The law remains as set out in Section 25 (as amended in 1984) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The book looks at why there have been so many apparently different approaches as to its implication since 1973. It includes a review the history of maintenance in this jurisdiction to give a context as to how we arrived at the current state of practice as set out in the 1973 Act.

Also discussed are the significant changes in society since the first statute allowing the courts to award maintenance namely the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857.

Finally, there is a review of current judicial thinking and approach on this difficult aspect of the financial remedies available following the breakdown of marriage, with consideration being given to the international context of spousal maintenance.

This updated second edition covers the latest developments including the introduction of no fault divorce in April 2022 in accordance with the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 which means that on dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership the parties are granted a conditional order and final order of divorce, and that prior to the grant of the final order a financial agreement must be settled.


Liz Cowell has over 30 years’ experience in the practice of Family Law. She has lectured on spousal maintenance in the jurisdiction of England and Wales to fellow Family Practitioners for more than a decade. She has had experience of sitting on the Child Support Act Tribunal and, since the year 2000, has sat as a Deputy District Judge.

Her interest in the Family Court’s approach to spousal maintenance was sparked following anecdotal research done during the noughties, which demonstrated marked differences in the approach to spousal maintenance across the jurisdiction, in addition to a conference on the topic organised by Resolution, which further highlighted the problems encountered by many practitioners.

Liz has built up a practice assisting clients facing issues with the Child Support Agency (as it was known then), and subsequently, has worked with parents who have been in need of help with the Child Maintenance Service. She is qualified as a Family Law Arbitrator, and is a firm believer in Arbitration as a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).


Chapter 1 – Introduction
Chapter 2 – History
Chapter 3 – The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (“MCA 1973”)
Chapter 4 – The Statute and the Rules
Chapter 5 – Maintenance Pending Suit and Interim Periodical Payments
Chapter 6 – Applications Pursuant to Section 23 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 for Periodical Payments of Maintenance
Chapter 7 – The Clean Break Problem
Chapter 8 – The Problems Surrounding Sharing the Payer’s Income
Chapter 9 – Needs Are Elastic
Chapter 10 – Bonuses and How They Affect Maintenance
Chapter 11 – Cohabitation
Chapter 12 – Variation of Periodical Payments
Chapter 13 – Capitalisation
Chapter 14 – The Treatment of Bonuses in Financial Settlement
Chapter 15 – Pensions
Chapter 16 – Bankruptcy
Chapter 17 – The Child Support Act 1991