Family Law Focus: Financial Relief
25 January 2022
The High Court of England and Wales has recently adjudicated on the biggest divorce case in British legal history. An order was made compelling the husband to pay his wife and children a divorce settlement that could exceed £500 million – the highest ever awarded by a UK Court.
When determining the appropriate provision for financial relief, the Court will look at the respective needs of each party. The needs of parties are interpreted widely and can include the following factors:
- Income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
- The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.
- The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage
- The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage
- Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage
- The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family
- The conduct of each the parties
In the case mentioned above, points 3, 6 and 7 were key factors taken into account by the High Court when assessing the wife’s entitlements.
Due to the circumstances of this case, the necessity of continuous security and protection for the ex-wife and children was a paramount consideration for the Court. The settlement made provision that the husband pay his wife £250 million upfront and provide a bank guarantee of £290 million for annual payments. The Order also directed that the former husband pay the costs of security for the ex-wife’s life to be paid upfront within 3 months rather than annually.
In addition to this, the former husband must pay £5.6 million in respect of maintenance per year for each child until they complete third-level education. After that, the children must be paid directly and the money will be utilised for security.
This is an extraordinary case, but it sheds a light on how the Court considers and evaluates matters in respect of large high net worth divorce settlements and of course in general.