The cost of living crisis and divorce maintenance payments

As the cost of living continues to have an impact on families’ finances, people who are required, as part of their divorce settlement, to pay maintenance may be struggling to meet those obligations on top of rising bills and mortgage payments.  The maintenance may be index linked which means that the maintenance will rise in line with inflation.

If you find yourself in this situation what can you do?

First, try to see if you can agree a reduction. You will need to give your income and expenditure to show that the currents payments are unaffordable.  It is important that you do not stop the payments otherwise you will be in breach of the court order and steps may be taken to enforce the order.  This could mean that you are ordered to pay costs and the arrears. If you are able to reach agreement, it should be recorded in an order and sent to the court to be approved and a solicitor can help you with this.

Second,  if the thought of direct conversations seems impossible, then look at other ways such as using the mediation process.   This is a voluntary process where you will be assisted by an impartial mediator who will try to promote dialogue and help you  reach agreement.  Alternatively, some family lawyers are able to offer a collaborative process.  This is where you and your former spouse, together with your respective solicitors, will meet and discuss matters, round the table, exploring solutions.

Thirdly, if this is unsuccessful, the next step to consider is making an application to the court to vary the payments downwards. An order can be varied if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the making of the original order. The outcome of these applications can be uncertain and so it is important to take legal advice so you know what information you need to present and how such applications are dealt with.

To discuss this, or any other related matter with our experienced Family team, please call us, start a live chat or email us at

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


Dimple Patel

Senior Associate, Family Law

Dimple is a Senior Associate Solicitor in the family law department. She qualified as a solicitor in 2007 after reading law at City University and...


Senior Associate, Family Law

Dimple Patel

Dimple is a Senior Associate Solicitor in the family law department. She qualified as a solicitor in 2007 after reading law at City University and has worked as a family solicitor in both Surrey and London. She joined Hart Brown in 2022.

Her practice involves advising on all aspects of family law and in particular the financial aspects of divorce and dissolution of civil partnership. She has extensive experience in negotiating financial settlements and advises clients with substantial assets including family businesses, pensions, trusts, foreign assets and inherited wealth as well as clients with more modest income and assets. She also deals with the variation and enforcement of existing financial orders.

Dimple assists clients to protect assets and family wealth through prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. She also assists cohabiting couples with cohabitation agreements, financial and property disputes as well as financial claims for children of unmarried parents under Schedule 1 Children Act.

Dimple has considerable experience advising on arrangements for children following divorce and separation including relocation of children both within England and Wales and abroad. She also assists clients where there are concerns around domestic abuse through personal protection injunctions such as Non-Molestation and Occupations Orders.

Dimple is a member of Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers and other professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. She aims to provide practical, tailored advice to enable her clients to make informed choices with a focus on early settlement.

Dimple often receives wonderful feedback from her clients, here are just a few testimonials.

“Dimple is very professional and reliable. I was able to always count on her excellent advice, quick responses to my queries and sympathetic balanced communications with all parties. I would whole heartedly recommend her to anyone dealing with family legal issues”

“Dimple quickly understood the challenges I was facing and we spoke a lot on the phone which I found helpful and calming. She is very bright, professional and warm and just the person one needs when dealing with difficult and unfamiliar issues. Dimple is committed, has good judgment and eye for detail. She is a highly competent solicitor and I highly recommend her.”

“Thank you so much for your help, support and advice through this difficult process. I appreciate all you’ve done and look forward to a brighter future, thanks to your help”

“Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me. You were so easy to work with at every stage of the game and I really appreciated having you to turn to. I still can’t believe how smoothly everything went! And the good news is, I’m genuinely finding happiness again in my life.”

“Thank you for your assistance and support over the last few years in relation to my difficult and challenging divorce proceedings and help to conclude the child matters with the best result I could have hoped for. I appreciate all your efforts on my case. I am so happy that I am spending quality time with my son and that he is getting to know his extended paternal family. Thank you for helping to make this happen.”