Divorce is a highly delicate area of family law. An important thing that needs to be clarified is that divorce does not entirely terminate the relations of spouses, despite the fact that their legal relations, rights and obligations cease to exist. In other words, marital life establishes a moral relationship on which a spouse may rely and claim maintenance, regardless of the dissolution of the marriage, under the provisions of Law Regulating Property Relations of Spouses (232/1991).
Section 5 of Law 232/1991 provides that the former spouse can apply for maintenance if:
• He/she is unable to support himself/herself from his/her income;
• He/she is unable to work due to health problems or other obstacles;
Nevertheless, section 6 of the Law clarifies that the maintenance order can be limited or terminated if:
• This is imposed by serious reasons;
• The duration of the marriage was very short;
• The claimant voluntarily caused his/her poverty;
• The dissolution of the marriage was caused due to claimant’s fault;
The maintenance amount is determined based on the needs of the beneficiary considering his/her standard of living before the divorce and all the necessities for the sustenance of the beneficiary. Additionally, if the spouse against whom the maintenance order is issued receives a thirteenth or fourteenth month pay, then it is possible the maintenance order to include a thirteenth or fourteenth monthly payment.
Pursuant to section 10 of the Law, each of the spouses can apply to the court to modify or annul the maintenance order. The maintenance amount may be decreased or raised based on the circumstances. For instance, if the financial situation of the beneficiary improves or if the financial status of the debtor worsens, then the maintenance order can be modified. According to the Law 232/1991, the maintenance amount automatically increases by 10% every 24 months (2 years).
The maintenance order ceases to have effect if:
• The beneficiary remarries or he/she cohabits with someone else in a form of free union;
• The beneficiary or the spouse against whom the maintenance order is issued dies;
• The order is annulled by the Court;
Maintenance after divorce is a sensitive matter that needs to be addressed carefully. Therefore, it is important to consult a family lawyer.