Seeking a maintenance order? New ruling which may affect your case

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This article looks at the case of L v L. This case involved determining what is the appropriate quantum and term for maintenance orders and the factors the court should consider when assessing whether to impose a term order or a joint lives order.

The parties were a husband aged 50 and a wife aged 44. It was a 10 year marriage and there were 2 children aged 12 and 9. The matrimonial pot was £3.4m including a farm owned by the wife worth £1.9m. The farm had a potential to produce income in the future.

The wife sought a lump sum of £100,000 and a joint lives maintenance award of £60,000 whereas the husband sought a £200,000 lump sum and a clean break.

The first instance judge ordered the husband to pay a lump sum to the wife of £35,000 and joint lives maintenance of £47,5000 per annum, not including the children’s school fees which were separately some £24,000.

The husband appealed on the basis that the judge had not considered the fact that he was getting a smaller share of the capital and that the judge had failed to consider a clean break on maintenance.

On appeal Mrs Justice King did not interfere with the decision on the division of capital but found that the first instance judge failed to take into account the income and needs of the parties when assessing quantum of maintenance. She therefore reduced the amount to £30,000 per annum.

In relation to whether or not this was a case appropriate for a clean break King J commented that the first instance judge had failed to justify her reasons for making a joint lives order and failed to properly consider if a term order would be appropriate looking at all of the circumstances including the needs of the parties. The court should also always first consider if a clean break is appropriate and this was not done in this case.

Reversing the first instance judge’s decision, King J substituted the joint life order for a term order of 2 years and 5 months based in part on the fact that the wife owned a farm worth £1.9 million, had worked throughout the marriage and continued to do so. She therefore would not suffer any undue hardship by being subject to a term order.

If you are seeking a divorce contact our expert divorce solicitors at Osbornes and we can advice you on the process as well as assisting you to receive adequate maintenance payments.

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