Yesterday the Court of Appeal ordered a husband to pay £215,000 to his ex-wife even though he was divorced from her 25 years ago. David Vaughan QC had been paying his first wife Philippa £27,000 pa since 1989. At the age of 70, he applied to the court to be relieved of that burden. In response, Philippa sought a payment of £560,000. In November 2009, the High Court allowed him to stop all financial support to his first wife. However, the Court of Appeal decided that decision was plainly wrong because the wife would not be able to adjust without 'undue hardship'. Consequently they ordered a further capital payment of £215,000 before the financial support was finally terminated.
S&B's family partner Nicola Harries commented:
"The court made some useful comments highlighting that the needs of a subsequent spouse or partner would not be prioritised over an earlier spouse's needs, even where a subsequent marriage is nearly twice as long as the first. The timescales in this case were unusual but a court will always focus on the possible hardship that an ex could face if financial support is simply withdrawn. Had the husband in this case not had capital to make a further payment, he could have been left making maintenance payments for the rest of his life, even if not at the original level. For that reason, most husbands would want to agree a term for which maintenance should be paid, rather that having the obligation continue indefinitely."