A former financial agony aunt has been granted permission to appeal against the timetable for consolidation of her maintenance payments into a lifetime lump sum.
Sacha Mullins divorced financial advisor Peter Mullins 21 years ago, and since then he had been paying her approximately £24,000 a year in maintenance payments and child support, the Telegraph reports. But when her ex-husband sold his successful wealth management company for £2.6 million, Judge Michael Horowitz QC ruled in favour of the couple severing their continuing financial ties. Mrs Mullins’ remaining maintenance payments were to be consolidated into a lifetime lump sum of £300,000, payable in three instalments at each stage of the sale.
In law courts are under a duty to bring an end to the financial obligations between the couple as soon as practicable. In many cases this is not possible and continuing maintenance payments are the result. However if the person making the payments subsequently becomes able to pay a lump sum then maintenance payments can be “capitalised”. This is possible under Section 31 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The court will consider what maintenance payments should be paid, and then capitalise that sum. If you are involved in such an application, don’t assume the capitalised sum will simply be the current figure capitalised – the court will consider a number of factors to bring it up to date. Then it will capitalise, which usually happens by reference to the Duxbury Tables, which I have discussed before on this blog. The latest Duxbury Tables can be found in the new edition of At A Glance, which we also recently discussed.
But in this case, dissatisfied with the end result, the former woman’s magazine writer applied for permission to appeal, saying she had found herself on the verge of destitution within months. Her barrister told the Court that Mrs Mullins was in arrears on her mortgage and would be left with almost nothing to live on before the next instalment of the lump sum in 2014.
Lord Justice Patten refused her permission to appeal the amount awarded by the judge, but did grant her permission to appeal against when the money should be paid.
He noted that the much of her ex-husband’ wealth had been built up after their separation.
“There should be a clean break – they have been divorced longer than most people are married. This couple have got to put an end to this war. They have got to get on with their lives. When this marriage ended, there was nothing, all of the husband’s wealth was built up again post-separation … She can’t expect to enjoy the standard of living which she would have had if they had stayed married.”
However, there was scope for changes to the timing of the payments, he concluded: “The wife has been left in the position under his order that she is required, in effect, to subsist throughout the remainder of this year with virtually no income at all.”
The couple lived together for a decade but were only briefly married before their separation.
As a financial agony aunt, Mrs Mullins provided readers with advice on money matters. She now runs a not for profit art and education business. Her ex-husband did not take part in the proceedings.