In family law matters we always look in this country at what happens across the water in the UK in relation to developments in family law.

There was a recent case in England where a husband had a sixteen year battle with his ex-wife as he felt he was chained to a settlement that he called himself “a cash machine for life”.  It seems this case began back in 2002 where both parties were married and the wife ran her own beauty business.  They then set up a business for him before health problems towards the end of the marriage meant she could no longer work full time. The settlement at the Divorce Court meant the marital home was sold with the wife receiving enough to buy a house mortgage free for which she agreed to give up her stake in the business and receive a lifelong maintenance payment of £1,100.00 per month.  However she followed that with a series of property investments spending her way through the original sum together with other funds and ending up back in rented accommodation in 2009.  

The point her husband made was that due to her gross financial mismanagement he was being asked to pay not only the original amount but a further amount per month to meet her basic needs.  His argument was that he was expected to go back to work in his later years for five to six days a week to subsidise her so she would only have to work three days a week.

The main issue here is do the Courts excuse extravagant and irresponsible spending?

Is there a requirement for her to become independent?

Why are the Courts not telling her to do this?  

The question in the UK and indeed here is whether we should have open ended maintenance payments.  The English and Welsh Courts seem less inclined to grant them.  The man in question simply wants to move on with his life which he says goes against the notion of equality we hear about today so much.  He even thinks a halfway house requiring step down payments for a short period resulting in the termination of all payments would be the best way forward.  In reality if a spouse is capable of looking after him or herself independently without this why should the paying party be penalised.

 In Ireland an application to vary any Maintenance Order can be brought if the basis on which it was originally granted has changed. 

In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.”