19 December, 2018
A wife challenged a recent Court of Appeal decision to end periodic payments from her ex-husband. The Supreme Court confirmed it's refusal for permission to appeal because the application did not raise an arguable point of law. The decision means family lawyers will have to wait for further clarification on the issue of maintenance following a divorce.
The parties were married in 2000 and had a child four years later, but separated in 2012. As of 2001, the wife had not worked, while the husband continued a successful career which gave him an annual salary of £3m by 2014.
The parties agreed to divide their £16m capital assets equally, but disagreed about the wife's entitlement to his future income. A judge ordered the husband to make periodical payments. Both parties challenged the decision at the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal ruled against the wife's appeal and allowed the husbands cross-appeal, ruling the wife's periodical payments would cease once the child turned 18. Family lawyers could use this ruling as a tool to obtain clean breaks for clients with the larger earning capacity.
Relevant issues here were whether the earning capacity of a spouse should be considered a matrimonial asset which would be shared, and whether it is fair to expect one spouse to use their capital whilst the other could use their income to meet their needs and keep their capital intact.
It appears, that this ruling provides protection for the breadwinner to achieve a clean break order.
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