15 years after financial settlement, the Court of Appeal ordered an ex-husband to increase his maintenance payments to meet the ex-wife’s basic needs.

A couple divorced in 2002 after 13 years of marriage. At the financial proceedings, there was an order that the husband pay the wife a lump sum of £230,000 and spousal maintenance of £1100 per month from the husband. In 2016, the wife had applied to court to increase her spousal maintenance to £1441 per month as she was unable to meet her basic needs on the income she had. It was heard that the wife made poor financial decisions by investing in a number of properties and had spent all of the lump sum received in 2002. The wife was now in debt and living in rented accommodation.

The ex-husband opposed this increase. The husband argued that he ‘should not be the insurer’ against his ex-wife’s ‘poor financial decisions and should not ‘pick up the tab’ 15 years after the divorce. The Court of Appeal found that there was a shortfall between the ex-husband’s maintenance payments and the amount to meet basic needs. Therefore the Court of Appeal increased the spousal maintenance to meet her basic needs.

This recent case is an example of how ongoing spousal maintenance can be varied whether it is increased, decreased or ended. This can take place many years after divorce and financial settlement.

How did this happen?

In 2002, when the original order was made, it did not achieve a clean break and there was no limit placed on the amount or duration of maintenance. A clean break order is an order which dismisses all future financial claims between spouses. If there was a clean break order, the ex – wife could not taken it back to court. If there was an order limiting maintenance, the ex-wife would have been unable to take it back to court. Ideally if a spouse has sufficient income, the parties should reach an agreement for one spouse to pay the other spouse a lump sum payment instead of maintenance.

Here at Jordans, we understand that divorce is an extremely difficult process whatever the circumstances surrounding the decision is. Jordans are a highly regarded firm and we have legal expertise in divorce, separation and finances. To speak to one of our family lawyers in our Dewsbury, Horsforth and Wakefield offices about starting a divorce, or for any other advice, call us on 0330 300 1103.

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