Spousal Maintenance

Alimony or spousal maintenance in Portugal

In 2008 profound changes were introduced to Portuguese divorce and spousal maintenance (alimony) legal framework.

Until then, the ex-spouse could claim a maintenance allowance, particularly if he or she was not found guilty of the divorce. The maintenance paid should suffice to allow the recipient to maintain the same standard of living.

Currently, the Portuguese legal regime is substantially different. It is now understood that each ex-spouse must provide for itself, so only in certain circumstances are an ex-spouse allowed to claim maintenance pay (alimony).

Besides, maintenance pay no longer relates to the marriage standard of living, but will just suffice for the beneficiary to satisfy his basic needs.

How is spousal maintenance calculated in Portugal?

There is no mathematical table or criterion that the court can use to determine the amount of maintenance.

In setting the value, the resources of the former spouse who pays it and the needs of the recipient must first be taken into account. If the ex-spouse already pays child support, it should take priority over maintenance payments. In addition to the income of each person and the needs of the person requesting spousal maintenance, the calculation of the amount to be paid must also take into account some elements, such as:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The collaboration that each gave to the couple’s economy
  • Age and health status of payer and recipient
  • Professional qualifications and business opportunities
  • The time each one will devote to raising common children
  • New marriages or civil unions.

After all these elements have been duly considered, an amount will be decided which should be paid monthly, twelve times a year.

When does maintenance pay end in Portugal?

Maintenance pay will not always be perpetual.

In fact, and knowing that Portuguese law imposes an obligation on each member of the ex-couple to provide for their livelihood, many cases will exist in which the ex-spouse will no longer depend on his ex-husband or ex-wife.
Thus, and as soon as there is a change in the circumstances that were taken into account at the time of maintenance pay granting. The ex-spouse obliged to pay may request the Court to reduce its amount or even to decree the end of the allowance. This will be the case when the ex-spouse finds work, receives an inheritance or, otherwise, can provide for its own needs.

Likewise, if the recipient of the pension remarries, starts a civil union or becomes morally unworthy of receiving it, there will also be a termination of maintenance payments. Anyone who commits a crime against the person obliged to pay alimony pension or defame him/her, etc., will be morally unworthy.

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