The Daily Mail has recently published an article about a husband who is taking his ex-wife to court to get more maintenance from her.
In this case, it was the husband who had given up full time employment, but did undertake some work as a freelance photographer. The wife works at PricewaterhouseCoopers earning a six-figure salary.
A financial order had already been made, but the husband is appealing that decision because he says the level of maintenance awarded was unfair, because it was based on him returning to work and earning the same salary as he did 11 years ago. He says that maintenance £50,000 per annum is not enough, and instead wants this increased to £85,000 a year.
A key part of the husband’s argument is that he feels there has been a gender bias and that if it was a wife in his position then she would have received more.
Taking an objective view of matters, the court does not take into account either party’s gender. The court has certain factors (often referred to as the section 25 factors, referring to that particular part of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973) which it takes into account when reaching a decision about a couple’s finances.
The key factor in question in this case appears to be “the income, earning capacity…which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future”.
Guidance is given as to what earning capacity means: “in the case of earning capacity, any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire”.
Of course, the judge taking the decision does not have a crystal ball and cannot predict exactly what a party’s earing capacity may be in the future. All the judge can do is go on the available evidence which could, for example, involve the wife producing example job adverts that she thinks the husband would be qualified for and could potentially secure.
The court has two competing factors to weigh up when considering the question of spousal maintenance. It has to look at what the husband needs and balance this against the wife’s ability to pay.
For further information about spousal maintenance, please see Maguire Family Law information on spousal maintenace. or contact one of the solicitors in the team for a consultation by telephone: +44 (0) 1625 544650 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org