Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fight to end payments to "workshy" ex wife

According to the The Telegraph, the Court of Appeal will hear a banker's case to end his monthly maintenance payments to his ex wife. Initially, he was due to pay his ex wife £1,000 a month to end at the end of 2009, providing her with enough time to become self sufficient.

Unfortunately, Mrs Norman returned to Court to claim a larger sum of money over a longer period of time. Mrs Norman was not working and at an earlier hearing one of the Judges stated that Mrs Norman appeared to think that her husband indefinitely gave her and her children a meal ticket. However, she ruled that she would still receive £12,000 per annum with the payments due to finish in April 2012. By this time she would have found herself full-time employment. Mrs Norman successfully appealed and the payments were extended to 2015.

The parties separated in 1998 after only five years of marriage. The case has been ordered to go before the Appeal Court for a further Hearing. Mr Norman has now quit his job for medical reasons.

This case will be watched with much interest. The opportunity to continually refer the matter back to Court and extend litigation results in large financial and emotional costs for both parties. Lots of ex husbands (and it is usually the husband) settle rather than incur additional legal costs.

The Court has a duty to consider a clean break between husbands and wives; other countries such as Scotland manage to enforce this upon the Court by making maintenance payments limited for a maximum of three years.

It appears on the presented facts that Mr Norman is unable to move on with his life and left with an unending financial responsibility to his ex-wife of five years. He stated that it was like getting divorced twice.

The system in Scotland and elsewhere provides more certainty. Our Government is encouraging mediation, but this is partly led by European legislation. and there is a cost pressure to free up Court time. Perhaps removing some of the Judge's discretion in family law would reduce the number of ex couples litigating?

The date for the Appeal is not yet set. If Mr Norman succeeds this may result in a number of husbands seeking a reduction in their payments to their exs. If the case fails it may result in a number of ex wives seeking an increase. Litigation awaits whatever the outcome. Not forgetting the interlude of a Mediation Assessment of course....

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