Spousal Maintenance

Pay maintenance to your ex-wife or ex-husband?

Law 61/2008 introduced profound and significant changes in divorce and maintenance legal regime in Portugal.

Until then, the former spouse could demand a maintenance pension from the other, in particular if that spouse was not found guilty on the divorce process. The maintenance amount should be enough to allow the recipient spouse to maintain the same standard of living he benefited from during marriage.

Currently, the rules are different. It is now understood that each ex-spouse must provide for itself after the divorce, and maintenance will only be due in certain circumstances.

Moreover, even in cases one of the spouses is entitled to maintenance, there is no guarantee that it will be enough to maintain the same standard of living that the spouse benefited from during marriage. Maintenance will be only in the amount necessary to meet the spouse basic needs.

How is maintenance amount for an ex-wife or ex-husband calculated?

There is no mathematical table or criterion to which the court can rely in order to determine the amount of maintenance pension.

In setting the pension, the income/possibilities of the spouse who pays it and the needs of the recipient who receives it must be considered. On the other hand, if the former spouse already pays maintenance to children, these should take priority over the pension to be paid to the ex-wife or ex-husband. In addition to the income of each of the spouses and its needs, the calculation of the pension amount must also take into account other factors, such as:

  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The collaboration of each of the spouses to the couple’s economy;
  • Age and health of the ex-spouse who pays and the one who receives;
  • Professional qualifications and business possibilities;
  • The time that each will devote to raising their children;
  • New marriages or non-marital partnerships.
  • After all these elements have been considered, an amount will then be paid monthly, twelve times a year.

And for how long is maintenance to be paid?

The duration of maintenance for an ex-wife or ex-husband

Maintenance pay will not always be perpetual.

In fact, and knowing that the law imposes on each of the former members the obligation to ensure their own livelihood, many cases will exist in which the former spouse will cease to depend financially on her ex-husband or ex-wife.

Thus, as soon as there is a change in the circumstances that were taken into account at the time of the setting of the maintenance obligation, the ex-spouse may apply the court court for a reduction of the pension amount or even to rule the end of the payment obligation. This is what happens when the recipient finds work, receives an inheritance or otherwise manages sufficient economic means to ensure their basic needs.

Also, if the recipient marries again, starts a civil partnership or becomes morally unworthy of receiving it,  maintenance obligation will end. In any case, the former spouse interested in reducing of ending maintenance payments, will have to apply for a court order for that purpose.

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