Hains and Lewis background image


Wife Entitled to Maintenance Until Sale of Family Home

When divorcing couples disagree on how assets should be divided, the courts will seek to arrive at a fair outcome for both parties. In deciding how the proceeds of sale of a former couple's home should be apportioned, the Family Court agreed with the wife that she should receive maintenance payments until the sale took place.

The couple had married in 2006. Following a brief separation, they had reconciled for two years before finally separating in 2022. The husband and wife both contended that they should be entitled to about 60 per cent of the proceeds of sale of the former matrimonial home, in which the husband was living. The wife also sought maintenance of £750 a month pending the sale: the husband opposed this and sought an immediate clean break. By the time the case was heard, one of the couple's children was living with both of them while the other two lived with the wife.

The Court took into account the couple's respective earning capacities. The husband earned about £129,000 a year but had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The wife, though currently unemployed and in receipt of benefits, had until recently earned £92,000 a year and anticipated that she would soon return to work. She believed that she would be able to earn around £70,000 a year while also caring for the children.

Noting that the other two children might spend time with the husband in the future, the Court considered that the couple had similar housing needs. The husband was likely to continue working notwithstanding his health issues, and the wife would return to work in the foreseeable future.

The Court ruled that, on the sale of the former matrimonial home, the husband should receive £25,000 and the wife £48,000 to cover debts. Of the remaining equity of £413,000, 53.5 per cent would go to the husband and 46.5 per cent to the wife. The wife would receive maintenance of £750 a month until the sale, at which point a clean break would be achieved. The Court subsequently determined that a lump sum should be paid in lieu of the maintenance payments, to prevent their being affected by her receipt of benefits.