People who divorce are not necessarily entitled to maintain the same lifestyle they enjoyed during their married lives, a Court of Appeal Judge has declared.
Mr Justice Moylan had rejected a 58 year-old former teacher’s claim that her divorce settlement did not leave her with enough money to buy a house similar to the £1 million country cottage she lived in while married.
She had claimed that she had given up a “promising” career at a school in Derby after her husband, a semi-retired GP, promised to “look after” them both. Together they enjoyed a lifestyle which was “substantially better than that of a comfortable middle class couple”.
However, after eight years of marriage the 74 year-old asked for a divorce. In the initial settlement, the husband was ordered to pay her a £140,000 lump sum and half the proceeds from the sale of their house. The wife believed this was not enough as she would be unable to buy a similar house of her own. She also sought compensation for her loss of earnings during the marriage.
She took her objection to the Court of Appeal and requested a housing fund of £750,000. Her barrister claimed that “considered against the marital standard of living and subject to funds being available, that was not an unreasonable sum”.
Mr Justice Moylan disagreed. He said that the decision for the wife to give up her career was a mutual one made by both her and the husband. As she had not been coerced into the decision but had given up her job willingly, the argument that she had “abandoned” her career for him did not convince. He declared that “the previous standard of living is a guide, but not completely determinative” when it comes to deciding a divorce settlement.