The question of whether someone is entitled to maintenance is a complex one. Lawyers often try and oversimplify the issue in order to explain it clearly but the harsh truth is, there is often no easy way to identify whether someone is entitled to maintenance.
As I touched on in my recent blog (http://www.brethertons.co.uk/site/blog/maintenance-what-is-it-am-i-entitled-to-it) the Courts have an obligation to try and achieve a Clean Break where possible.
Determining maintenance should be relatively simple. There is a clear directive in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA 1973) for the court to consider whether a 'clean break' can be achieved. In clean break cases, no spousal maintenance is paid (child maintenance is dealt with separately). The relevant provision is section 25A(1) of the MCA 1973. It states that the duty of the court is 'to consider whether it would be appropriate... that the financial obligations of each party towards the other will be terminated as soon after the grant of the decree as the court considers just and reasonable'. A short read of this legislation suggests that maintenance payments should play a relatively limited role in divorce settlements, but the reality has been somewhat different.