Sally Robinson, head of the Family Law team comments a recent case where an attempt by a divorcee to have a “meal ticket for life” backfired after a High Court Judge ruled her maintenance payments should cease after just three years.
Sally explains: “This case recognises the fact that the Court are under a duty in all cases to consider a clean break. If maintenance is deemed necessary, the Court will often look to order a “term maintenance order”, with the expectation that the receiving party should mitigate their own situation and thus be self sufficient after a period of time. Such orders can be “extendable” or “non-extendable”, depending on the circumstances of the matter.
There are exceptional cases where spousal maintenance “for life” or using the legal term “on a joint lives basis”, is appropriate though. A potential example of this may be where the parties have been married for a long time, and one party, [of either sex, given that so-called traditional roles are easily reversed these days] has been the main carer of their children and is the agreed homemaker. If she or he has never worked, it may not be appropriate to expect them to obtain employment, if they are for example approaching retirement age and their partner was always the “main breadwinner” earning sufficient sums to support two households.
This case, on appeal, was deemed not to be one of those exceptional cases, with the wife only being 49 years of age, with many years ahead of her, having received a substantial capital lump sum payment, which she could also invest some of, to provide a future income stream.
Every outcome depends on the individual circumstances”
For further advice or for help with this or other matrimonial issues, please contact Sally on o800 088 6004