The press frequently report stories about the distress of divorcing couples. Last month I wrote about Mrs Wyatt and Mr Vince and their battle in the court when she claimed for monies 24 years after they had divorced – see my article on my website on how to avoid this!
However, not even that case resulted in the many, many emails that I received from clients, both past and present, when a few weeks earlier the press reported the Court of Appeal case of wealthy vet, Mr Wright, asking to reduce the amount paid to his ex-wife each month as spousal maintenance. The Judge was brutal in his comments saying that the ex-wife should ‘be working for a living’ (at least part time). Clearly this touched a nerve with both wives and husbands for whom I act.
In some cases, it is appropriate for one spouse (usually the husband) to pay maintenance to the other spouse (usually the wife) for a long period of time to support that other spouse. This is not the same as child maintenance. This is never an ideal arrangement – neither party can completely move on with their lives separate from the other. There are occasions when it is appropriate to review maintenance payments eg if the circumstances of the parties has changed or it is some time since the initial agreement.
Over time we have seen many changes in the attitude of the Court. In the early 2000’s we certainly saw a massive swing in favour of wives with the advent of ‘fairness’ in financial settlements. This has gradually been eroded with many court decisions ‘taking back’ the ground previously given to wives.
It is just these types of cases and Court decisions which shape what we do as family lawyers on a daily basis. We have to keep up with the latest cases in order to ensure that we can provide the best advice for our clients.
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