A wife whose marriage was the subject of one of the landmark judicial decisions of recent times has succeeded in her bid for an increased level of maintenance payments from her former husband.
Julia McFarlane will now receive a minimum of £350,000.00 a year from Mr McFarlane, who is a partner at Deloitte. The maintenance will comprise 40% of his income up to £750,000.00, 20% of income between £750,000.00 and £1million, and 10% of income over £1million. Mr McFarlane's income has increased from £750,000.00 at the time of the divorce in 2006, to £1.1million. It is possible for parties who have already reached a financial settlement, or had an order made by the courts, to bring the matter back to court if their circumstances have changed, usually due to an increased or decreased level of income.
One of the factors that was taken into account in Mrs McFarlane's case was that although she would be able to live "comfortably" for the rest of her life if the maintenance stayed at the original level, looking at the circumstances of the parties' marriage it was clear that it had always been their intention that she would give up her career as a solicitor in order to look after the children, and that in doing so she would see the benefits of any increase in the husband's income position. The increased maintenance award therefore reflects the "plans and expectations" that the parties had during the marriage.
The maintenance will be reviewed again in 2015 when Mr McFarlane plans to retire.
The ruling will worry many former husbands, particularly the high earning City workers who already pay a significant proportion in tax, and they may feel that it would be better simply to retire early rather than risk having to pay even more over to their former wives. On the flip side, if Mr McFarlane's income drops below the level where he can afford Mrs McFarlane's basic needs then it is possible for him to return the matter to court and seek a downward variation of the maintenance payments.
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