A husband has lost his appeal to have his payments to his former wife reduced even though the couple’s assets had not been divided equally as part of the divorce settlement.
The case involved a couple in their 30s who had been married for 10 years and had a daughter aged three.
The wife earned £28,000 a year as a university researcher. The husband was a lecturer who had been earning £75,000 a year but reduced his hours to avoid working weekends so he could see his daughter. This meant a reduction in salary.
The couple owned five properties; the husband lived in one of them and the others were let out.
The judge ordered the husband to make payments to the wife of £1,070 per month, to be index linked until the child started secondary school. The judge based her calculation on the assumption that the wife would need to buy a house costing £250,000 with a mortgage of £100,000 to be funded from the sale of the couple’s properties.
She divided the couple’s assets so that 30% went to the husband and 70% to the wife. The husband would also keep the flat in which he lived and retain his savings of £10,500.
The husband appealed saying that the judge had overlooked the fact that the wife’s childcare costs would decrease once their daughter started school. She had also failed to base her judgment on his reduced salary without overtime, and had erred in making a periodical payments order because the wife intended to rent a home and so would have her income boosted by rental income from two properties she would not have to sell.
The Court of Appeal rejected the husband’s submissions. It held that the judge could not be criticised for deciding that the childcare costs would not decrease significantly before the daughter started secondary school. The judge had considered the wife and child, and concluded that their needs could not be met unless the wife had access to more than half the family assets.
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Clare Thomas | Partner
Head of Family Department, Kerseys