News & Insights

Ancillary relief

An application for ancillary relief is concerned with the distribution of the matrimonial assets during a divorce.

Where a clean break is not possible, the Court is able to order for example, that property is to be transferred into one of the spouse’s names; payments of a lump sum; periodical payments and/or a pension sharing order.

Where a wife has given up her job to maintain the family home, have children and raise them, she may not be able to support herself once she is divorced. In these circumstances, the Judge may order that ‘spousal maintenance’ should be paid to the wife.

An example of the above is illustrated in the recent case of Wright which attracted press coverage. The facts of the case, was that the wife gave up her job to have children and subsequently came out of her divorce with a £450,000 mortgage free house as well as an order for her ex-husband to pay spousal maintenance to her in the sum of £75,000 per year. This purpose of this periodical payment was to maintain his ex-wife, who did not work, and their children.

More recently however, the ex-husband sought to reduce the maintenance payments in the High Court. The ex-wife appealed the decision of the High Court.

Contrary to the purpose of spousal maintenance, the Court of Appeal Judge stated that the ex-wife had no right to expect an ‘income for life’ from her former husband, who is a very wealthy horse surgeon. The Judge also asserted that she should go and find a job ‘like a vast number of other women that have children’.

It appears from this decision that the Courts are more likely to take a dim view of wives that do not work. At the very least, the Court’s may place more emphasis on ensuring that parties are endeavouring to increase their earning capacity after divorce. Please contact our Litigation Team on 020 8502 3991 for further guidance.