Divorcée criticises media coverage of pay-out

Divorce|February 9th 2017

A woman whose divorce settlement was increased 15 years after her marriage ended has hit out at the coverage of her case in the media.

The 51 year-old has claimed that since the Court of Appeal ruled that her ex-husband should support her for life, she has become the victim of an online hate campaign. Several reports presented “a very one-sided version of the facts”, she said in a statement through her legal team.

The media coverage of the decision and the “internet hate mail” which followed have caused her “considerable distress” she insisted.

The woman had not even sought higher maintenance from her former husband. Her statement read:

“It should be noted that since the divorce 15 years ago, I have never returned to the court to increase my maintenance, despite my financial difficulty and bad health and low earnings.”

The reason she was in Court was because her ex-husband had applied “to reduce or eliminate the maintenance despite the fact [their] son is still in full-time education and still living with [her] at home” she said.

During this hearing, her lawyers explained that she had made a series of “unwise” property investments which had left her unable to buy a home for her and her son. The two were living in rented accommodation in Weybridge, Surrey, at the time of the dispute.

Lord Justice Longmore and Sir Ernest Ryder ruled that her spousal maintenance should be increased from £1,100 to £1,441 each month because she was “unable to meet her basic needs”.

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  1. spinner says:

    Only important fact of the case is that 15 years after their divorce she is still taking money from her ex-husband, this is unacceptable in 2017 and she should be and I hope she is ashamed of herself but more importantly why do we still have laws that allow this kind of injustice.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Spinner
      I allowed your comment which is offensive, but only in order to answer it. She has nothing to be ashamed of. I have considerable sympathy with this lady. The law is clear. I think the Court of Appeal examined their circumstances and concluded she could not manage without “undue” hardship and that is the test not hardship but undue hardship. A child is a huge financial burden to a parent with care. A child hampers increasing an earning capacity whilst the parent with care is still young enough to do something about it. I think the capital she tried her best to increase but lost no doubt along with thousands of other was over blown in the scheme of things and a smokescreen for the undue hardship test. She wasn’t applying for a second lump sum. She probably only got a small inflation increase, I haven’t seen a judgement yet so I don’t know for sure but it wasn’t substantial. We don’t do a knife and fork job in this country permitting the richer party to walk away and start again regardless of the financial imbalance he or she helped create with a previous spouse. And long may that remain the case. Liabilities are human beings.

      • spinner says:

        I cannot control what you get offended by and it is your choice if you wish to be offended but in my view my comment was not at all offensive.
        What is however truly offensive is that we still in 2017 have laws that allow women and it is largely women to make these claims decades after the end of the marriage and constitute in my view for the man nothing less than a form of bonded labour. In England and Wales we are among a very small number of countries that allow the state to do this even Scotland only allows three years.

        • Marilyn Stowe says:

          Dear Spinner
          Telling someone they should be ashamed of their legal entitlement certainly is offensive. From what I’ve read in the press this application was made not by her, rather by her ex who seems to have taken a big financial gamble for a relatively small pay out each month and lost. The ex wife clearly has needs and relatively speaking they are low but undoubtedly her income capacity has been hindered and in this country we recognise and this as a consequence of the marriage. It is a controversial topic possibly one of the most in family finances and I am writing a post and will explain more in it.

          • spinner says:

            You personally have chosen to be offended by my position but to me and I believe people generally what I have said is not offensive at all.
            In this day and age, strong independent women are embarrassed by women such as this taking money from their ex-husband decades after the end of their marriage, it’s just pathetic. The usual crutches such as child care are brought up but in reality these are just excuses for people who haven’t managed to get it together.
            Fundamentally views have changed on what marriage means and I think you need to catch up with the times.

          • Marilyn Stowe says:

            Dear Spinner
            I am not offended for myself, I am used to defending my position. I am offended for the woman against whom you made the comments.
            I am a strong independent woman who has always made her own way in the world. But I have not lost my concern for those in different positions to me male or female whom I have had the privilege to represent through what will be a 37 year career, next week.

          • JamesB says:

            Congratulations on your brilliant career.

            That was sincere.

            I think you are pushing a bad line on this matter though and agree with Spinner. Marriage as a mealticket for life disappears with divorce on demand. Its too much have your cake and eat it and pre nups or repeal of divorce on demand for me is the logical solution to this question.

            Sort of like the West Lothian question, the What are marriage vows worth question?

            To be fair to you a very senior Judge (can’t remember which one) said the law is a mess in that it says conduct is the peg a divorce is hung but is irrelevant with regards to finances.

            The law needs sorting out and you are pushing a bad law. What you say may be law, but it is not natural law and needs to be tidied up as it contradicts itself and is a bloody mess!

            Please excuse the tone, but I think your tone of female entitlement is destroying western civilisation.

          • Marilyn Stowe says:

            Dear James
            It looks a small though the interest the wife had in the company they both jointly owned was met through maintenance payments. Was £12k pa appropriate for her interest? And what did he earn from it at the same time?

          • JamesB says:

            To be honest, I struggle with the whole trust fund / maintained interest in something like Duke of Westminster being so rich, like young people without money from parents being unable to get on the housing market, like young people in southern Europe having few options. With too many interests maintained, like poor young male virgins worldwide in India and arab countries being unable to find partners. Like poor people having insufficient opportunities to study and be educated. Perhaps these things do not leave sufficient room for a bit of variety and change and progression and variety is the spice of life and I have seen so many rich people with limited ability getting a lot of a money because they were born entitled and their class. Was one of the reasons I voted Brexit, people need more of a chance, we cant all sit round with our hands out hoping for scraps from the rich ongoing. Was on a roll there.

            On a point of clarity, I did not mean to infer that you are to blame for the decline of western civilisation, that may have been a bit OTT. Sorry about that. I don’t know the answers (as I don’t think you do either). I do think though that there is a link between perceived unfairness in family court and number and quality of marriages and I do worry about it as I like to see men and women get on.

          • JamesB says:

            Just remembered why I (like increasing billions of others) vote anti establishment and anti globalisation, for the above and many such reasons like lobbying etc. Think the politicians are cottoning on but sadly perhaps not the labour party the media also seem to need to change the tune a bit and I hope they have something more appropriate relevant and interesting than banging on about fascism which they have unfortunately been taking to wrong route to going on about more and more recently.

      • Archana Jain says:

        I completely agree with you, Marilyn. Whilst I am not a family lawyer, from a practical point of view, there are many times where there is complete financial imbalance between the separating spouses – usually the wife. She cannot be expected to walk away with very little whilst the higher earner will be able to live a lavish lifestyle. Bringing up children, whilst very rewarding, also limits the earning potential of the main carer (mainly the mother) and impacts on pension entitlement, career progression. I’m not saying anything that isn’t well known. This imbalance has to be addressed – and as you say – long may it continue!

  2. Andrew says:

    What makes me uncomfortable is that she is treating him as the insurer. She lost the money he paid her – so now he must indemnify her.

    Spousal maintenance should be highly exceptional and normally for a fixed and non-extendable term and at a fixed rate. Whole life orders leave two people with no incentive to better themselves.

  3. Yvie says:

    I an quite puzzled about this case also. It appears that she speculated (gambled) on the housing market and lost. So now her husband has to pay her extra support 15 years post-divorce. Many people invest in the stock market with disastrous results. Do they expect someone else to underwrite their loss. I think this is a bad decision. Is the woman not able to support herself? From a personal point of view I still work part time from home and enjoy it immensely. I am 75 and have no intention of giving up my work just yet. Where there is a will there is a way.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear Yvie
      I think her loss of capital wasn’t the issue. The issue was more likely if the £1.1k PM stopped would that cause her undue hardship. I imagine the answer was in the affirmative.

  4. Andrew says:

    In every divorce where there is maintenance the time will come when the payer is entitled to say “I am going to retire and put my feet up”. His income will drop and so should the maintenance – even if that causes the payee hardship. If there is no private pension to share, or if the petition was before 1/12/2000, or if pension sharing has been excluded by consent or otherwise it may cause severe hardship but he is not just a wage- or rather a maintenance-slave.

    I would say the same of a man who decides to quit work and take up some sort of study. There is or ought to be life after divorce!

  5. Andrew Wolstencroft says:

    I’ve written a more detailed comment on this on another string on the site, there seem to be quite a few on this issue!
    The key points to me are that: it cannot be reasonable that anyone should carry an indefinite financial responsibility to another after a marriage has ended, regardless of the circumstances; this not a one off, it’s the latest in a long list of such examples of settlements which the majority of people would find outrageous; and,most importantly, the evidence overwhelmingly supports the notion that the law is absolutely not gender neutral whatever the statute books say. Provide any examples of a woman being ordered to pay a man indefinite maintenance.

  6. Andrew Wolstencroft says:

    The comment at the top of this thread is frankly staggering.
    “I allowed your comment which is offensive”

    Offensive that someone has the audacity to call something for what it is?

    The things that are really offensive about this latest scandalous – and I use that word deliberately – , ruling are :

    That we have a legal framework around divorce which allows judges to exercise the amount of discretion that makes this kind of ruling possible -it’s the latest in a long line of decisions which any rational thinking person will find inexplicable.

    That judges have the deep rooted attitudes and the value system that must inform such decisions as being correct and fair.

    That one individual should have an indefinite financial responsibility to another, for years after the end of a relationship – what other kind of contract carries such an obligation?

    That this kind of ruling has come to be just accepted, almost as the norm.

    And that after decades of movement towards gender equality, we still have and accept what is surely the most flagrant embodiment of institutionalised inequality and discrimination – the divorce courts.
    It’s as if the huge societal shifts of the last 50 years or so haven’t happened and the courts are still operating to the standards and norms of the 1950s – this must be the perspective from which judgements like this are made.

    Decisions like this are utterly outrageous and send out an appalling message, a message that is impossible to square with the drive for equality. It seems that, as a woman, you are entitled to expect equal employment opportunities, rights and remuneration but you are also entitled to expect to be supported by the man you marry, indefinitely in many cases, even if the relationship breaks down.

    Please don’t tell me the law is gender neutral. The writing in the statute books may be but the actual reality is emphatically not. The evidence overwhelmingly shows that it is men on the receiving end of decisions like this – provide examples where a woman has been ordered to make indefinite maintenance payments to a man. You’ll struggle.

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