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Spousal maintenance - to pay or not to pay?

View profile for Yasmin Gizzi
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Spousal maintenance is a difficult topic for any divorcing couple and there are a number of factors that the courts will take into consideration when deciding whether to grant spousal maintenance payments.

The recent case of Waggot v Waggot (2018), which was heard in the Court of Appeal, indicated that Courts are less likely to order that spousal maintenance payments continue on a ‘joint lives’ basis i.e. payments are made until the death of one party, remarriage or further order of the Court, and are steering towards couples having a ‘clean break’ as soon as possible.

In this case, it was ordered that Mrs Waggot (47 years old) receive a financial settlement of £9.76m and in addition, her multimillionaire husband was ordered to pay £175,000 in annual maintenance payments on a joint lives basis.

Unhappy with this Order, Mrs Waggot applied back to the Court and asked for an increase in her maintenance payments of £23,000 a year arguing that Mr Waggot’s earning capacity was a matrimonial asset and she should be entitled to compensation because she had given up her job early in the marriage.

Mr Waggot successfully challenged this argument and indeed the original Order, much to Mrs Waggot’s dismay.  Mr Waggot argued that Mrs Waggot should use some of the £9.76m capital that she was awarded to meet her income needs.

Lord Justice Moylan ordered that the £175,000 of maintenance payments originally ordered should stop in 3 years’ time rather than continuing until their deaths. The Court granted Mr Waggot a clean break from his former wife after the term of 3 years.

LJ Moylan said that this Order would enable Mrs Waggot to adjust without undue hardship and she would be able to make up the ‘shortfall ‘created by the loss of maintenance payments by investing some of the capital she had received and generating interest from this, in line with Mr Waggot’s argument.

For any family advice, please contact Yasmin Iqbal.