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Covid-19 Uncertainty: Varying Financial Orders 

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been felt in all areas of life – lots of the people worst affected are devastatingly losing jobs, homes and/or contact with their families. This has led to much uncertainty, not least in separated families, as to where people now stand in relation to court orders that were made in very different pre-pandemic circumstances. 

Redundancies are reaching a record high; 314,000 workers were made redundant in the three months to September 2020, meaning the number of unemployed people in the UK has risen to around 1.6 million people. This figure is only predicted to rise further as we move into 2021. Therefore, people are facing serious financial insecurity, with separated adults left confused as to whether they can afford to continue obliging with a financial order that is based on previous earnings they no longer make. Even where someone has kept their job but had their salary cut this still can still mean they are no longer able to meet their court ordered financial obligations and leads to much stress on the individual and their family. 

Needing to vary maintenance paid via the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) 

Parents who are paying child maintenance through the CMS, should contact the CMS in the first instance to determine whether they are entitled to a recalculation based on their change in circumstances. Usually, in the following instances you are able to ask for a recalculation:  

  • Made redundant 
  • Stopped working for employer 
  • On statutory sick pay (including during coronavirus self-isolation unpaid period)  
  • Income has decreased by 25% or more  
  • Shared care has changed (e.g. looking after the children overnight more due to the change in working circumstances and therefore entitled to a reduction)

Needing to vary court ordered spousal maintenance or child maintenance  

The paying individual can apply to the Court for a variation to a financial order, but this application will need to have very compelling grounds for why the Order needs to be adjusted. The Court has broad discretion to consider the individual’s circumstances, but there needs to be a clear demonstration of why the circumstances have materially changed when applying for the variation.  

The specifics of your order will determine whether the contents can be varied – if you need advice on this, please contact our dedicated Family Law team either through a question on the Facebook group or via our enquiries email address.

Post Author: Phoebe Smithdale