Recently, a retired barrister and his ex-wife faced one another in court after he made the proposal that her annual maintenance of £27,000 a year should be terminated.
The couple had been divorced in 1991 and after their divorce the barrister had gone on to become a leading QC, amassing a fortune estimated at £5 million. When he retired, he went to court to have her maintenance payment stopped, arguing that he could no longer afford the cost and that his pension income was the result of a pension pot he had built up from his earnings after their divorce. He argued that half of that was attributable to his second wife and that ordering the continuance of the payments was, in effect, giving priority to his first wife to his second wife’s detriment, or as his barrister put it ‘the second wife would be contributing to the maintenance of the first’.
The Family Court accepted this argument and ordered the maintenance payments to be cancelled. The ex-wife appealed to the Court of Appeal, claiming that stopping the payments would leave her without any income whilst her ex-husband enjoyed an income she claims is ‘in six figures’. She applied to the Court for a lump-sum of £500,000, later reducing her claim to £341,000.
The Court accepted that ‘the judge wrongly gave priority to the claims of the second wife’ and awarded the ex-wife a lump sum of £215,000 to be paid by July.