A victory for first spouses
In a case heard in April 2010, the Court of Appeal has ruled that it is wrong to give priority to the financial claims of a second wife (husband), when the claims of the first wife (husband) have yet to be met fully.
The facts of the case were that the husband was a wealthy barrister who had been paying his wife maintenance for years, in accordance with a Court Order. The husband had remarried and he and his second wife had two children at University. The first wife had not remarried. She and the husband had not had any children and were married 14 years and separated 4 years before they divorced and achieved a final financial order.
The husband stopped the maintenance payments without the agreement of his first wife and without the consent of the Court. The first wife took the matter back to Court for enforcement.
The High Court ruled in the husband’s favour, but on Appeal, the first wife was awarded a lump sum of capital in satisfaction of her claim.
As one can imagine, the figures involved were astronomical, and completely off the scale compared to the sums which most of us can relate to!
However, the significant factor was that the husband and first wife had been separated 29 years when he stopped the maintenance payments. The wife’s claim remained as strong as ever despite respective competing needs having changed in the meantime.