Definition of Ancillary Relief

Ancillary relief is relief or payments provided by the court to another person who involved in a legal proceeding, generally a divorce. For instance, if an individual has filed for divorce they may also petition the court for child support payments, spousal maintenance, debt payments or division of property. The reason it is called “ancillary relief” is because the requested relief is contingent on another legal matter. For example, if the divorce is not completed the ancillary relief is not needed.

Although ancillary relief generally is a request for financial payments, it can also encompass a broader range of issues such as child custody arrangement or legal orders for the action of both parties after the divorce. If an individual has requested ancillary relief the court will evaluate the petition and make a decision. The matters considered vary by jurisdiction. For instance, in some jurisdictions the court may consider fault; other jurisdictions will focus specifically on an equitable distribution of assets. Individuals may also have the opportunity to negotiate a settlement prior to appearing in court, allowing for the court to simply finalize the order.

Prior to making their decision, the court will review the financial position of each spouse including their incomes, assets, debts, liabilities and the transfer value of each parties’ pensions. The court will also review the ability of each spouse to earn an income, their current financial needs, their responsibilities to other members of the family, their standard of living, the length of the marriage, the spouse’s age and the health of each spouse.

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