Divorcee to receive payments on a sliding scale
The courts take several factors into account when considering how a couple's assets should be divided when they divorce.
In a recent big money case, a judge decided that a wife should receive periodic payments that reduced each year on a sliding scale.
The husband in the case was 38 and a high earner. His wife was 33 and had given up full-time work to look after their son who was four years old at the time of the separation. They had been married for five years.
The wife argued that she should receive £120,000 a year for life or until she remarried.
The court held that this could not be justified. The judge said that, generally speaking, a marriage should not be used as the basis for sharing future resources after a couple separate. There were, however, certain factors to consider. For example, the lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage would set a benchmark as to the level of lifestyle the couple could expect to enjoy after the divorce.
The length of the marriage would be relevant in assessing how long that level of lifestyle was to be enjoyed by the spouse receiving support, and the period over which a transition should take place to a lesser lifestyle.
The choices made by the couple during the marriage would also have an effect. For example, if a woman gave up her career to care for children, it may affect her job prospects in future.
The marital choices made in this case did not prevent the wife from working on a part time basis that enabled her to also look after her son. In fact, before the marriage broke up, the couple had agreed that the wife should start working part time in a new business she was helping to set up.
Taking all these factors into account, the judge held that the wife should receive half the marital liquid assets to provide her with a home. She should then receive annual payments on a sliding scale. These should start at £95,000 and reduce to £75,000 after two years, £55,000 after four years and then to £35,000 after six years.
The husband would also pay £18,000 a year for the benefit of his son.
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