When a couple dissolves their relationship or divorces, the courts may instruct the individual with the greater income to make a regular contribution to their former partner's living costs. Called a maintenance order, this contribution may have a time limit applied to it that sees payments continue until remarriage, a new civil partnership is entered into or until a specified date has been reached. Amendments can also be made if the financial circumstances of either individual change.
Often imposed as part of a couple's asset division, such family law problems considered by the courts will take into consideration the length of the union, any property or financial holdings, both party's ability to garner an income, the age of both parties, the standard of living experienced during the union and the individual roles of each party. That is to say, a judge will make their decision on any award or maintenance order based on the living circumstances and position as either primary carer for any offspring or breadwinner for the household.