The issue of determining how long spousal maintenance should be paid for was examined by the Court of Appeal recently. The Husband in the case is 59, and an equine surgeon. The Wife, aged 51, cares for the children, and had not worked outside of the home since she was 35.
The original financial deal in the case, made in 2008 after a 9 year marriage, provided that:
- there was an unequal division of family capital, in the Husband’s favour. Both parties were able to buy mortgage free homes.
- the Husband was to pay global maintenance of £54,000, divided such that the Wife received £33,200 and the children received £20,800. He was also to pay school fees. At the time of the order the children of the family were 7 and 1, and are now aged 16 and 10.
- payments had increased to £63,200 due to inflationary increases.
The Husband’s net income is now circa £185,000, so he was paying approximately one third of his income in maintenance to the Wife.
The court decided that the spousal maintenance element should be immediately reduced from £33,200 to £18,000, and the £18,000 should be paid until the 16 year old child finished secondary school. At that point the spousal maintenance would be paid for one further year, at £12,000 per annum and stop at the point that the Husband planned to retire, aged 65.
The court was extremely clear that the Wife was expected to contribute to her own support by finding work. At the point of the original judgment she had not worked outside the home for 9 years, and a further 7 years have now passed. The court provided that by the time the Husband retires, there should be no spousal support for the Wife.
This judgment was appealed by the Wife, unsuccessfully. Perhaps the Wife may seek to change this order at the point the maintenance is due to decrease or stop. It is clear though that the court will expect the Wife to have taken steps outside of the home and into the world of work before she makes any such application stating “the burden will be on her to show that there should be such a variation and the court will want to know what she has done to support herself.”
* X v X  EWFC B17
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