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Spousal Maintenance – Whose side are you on?

The Court of Appeal recently told an ex-wife to “get a job” and that she had no right to be supported for life by her ex-husband.  The decision split opinion in the legal world and has led to many clients going back to their solicitors asking if they can reduce or bring to an end their maintenance obligations.

The two polar viewpoints can be summarised as follows:-

  •  Why shouldn’t she go out to work?  Thousands of single parents hold down a job and go to work.  People need to be independent and self-sufficient.  Why should she be entitled to maintenance way beyond the end of the marriage and benefit from the efforts of an ex-spouse after the relationship has ended?
  • She wouldn’t be in the position of needing maintenance but for the marriage.  She subjugated her career prospects to support her ex-spouse and the children.  This was the contract they entered into.  She is now left high and dry with limited career prospects and earning capacity whilst her ex can live comfortably relying on his substantial salary.

Which side of the line are you on?  This probably depends whether you are a potential payer or payee but this is seldom clear cut.  What is clear however, is that there is a shift in judicial opinion which will impact on cases in the future.

Family and divorce - head of Family and Divorce - Simon Gledhill