Is Divorce Maintenance Award Unfair?

20 June 2016

Attention-grabbing headlines in the press are used for exactly that, to grab our attention. But with any story in the media, you should give the facts of the story careful consideration before making an assumption. Headlines are a useful tool used by the media to draw us in and to grab our focus in all the other noise that takes away our attention.

In a recent story in the press about an NHS doctor who said he'd been unfairly treated by the divorce Courts, it was difficult to pull out the facts.

He said that, because of the maintenance award granted to his ex-wife, he would be forced to work a 56-hour week. This would, he said, help to keep his wife in the manner in which she had been accustomed.

The Court had ordered that he pay his wife £1,070 per month in spousal maintenance. In addition, the Court ordered that she was to receive 70% of the assets of the marriage, which comprised of various buy-to-let properties.

The doctor took his case to the Court of Appeal, claiming that the original Judge had been wrong in his approach to the financial agreement with his ex-wife, and that the amount awarded to her was too high.

The Court of Appeal did not agree, and upheld the decision made by the original Judge. Since then, the doctor's ex-wife successfully applied to enforce the Maintenance Order.

When you read the article, it may at first glance, seem unfair. But what the article didn't do was provide all the background information needed to make a fair analysis. This background detail should have included all of their assets, their income and their needs.

The article failed to look at the reasoning of the original Judge. When they make a decision in Court, the Judge always provides information and reasons for their decision. In such cases as this one, there is a lot of crucial information to be considered and without all of the information, it is difficult to understand how the Court has reached its decision.

In this particular case, the Judge assessed the wife's needs based on the fact that she had primary responsibility for their child, who was 3. Her husband had a higher income and earning capacity than she did and she had day-to-day childcare responsibility. She also had a much smaller pension than her husband, which the Judge offset by awarding the wife a greater division of the other assets (the buy-to-let properties).

In or out of Court, it is really important to have all the facts and information before coming to an agreement about your financial arrangements after divorce. Not many people realise that when a divorce ends their marriage, this does not end the financial responsibility to their ex.

At Co-op Legal Services our Divorce Solicitors have many years' of experience in advising people who are faced with disagreement and disputes over their finances when they get divorced or separate.

Our aim is to approach each case in a non-confrontational and constructive manner and try to work with you and your ex to reach an agreement that works for you both. Neither of you will want a long and expensive Court battle. The longer and harder you fight, the more expensive and painful it will be so an agreement is the best way forward for everyone involved.

Once we've helped you both to reach an agreement, we'll prepare a written document called a Consent Order. The Consent Order is then forwarded to the Court for approval. Once approved, it binds you both to the agreement you've made.

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