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Maintenance – McFarlane v McFarlane 2009


Mrs McFarlane made an application to the Court to increase her maintenance of £250,000 per annum and to capitalise her maintenance claim. The couple had three children, aged twenty, eighteen and thirteen.

Since the parties had separated, Mr McFarlane had remarried and his second wife was also a successful partner at his accountancy firm. They had a son who was three years old and Mr McFarlane’s career had continued to blossom.

In 2007, one year after the House of Lord’s judgement, Mrs McFarlane the first issued her application for increased maintenance. The Judge, Mr Justice Clark, made an order to fund an eight year clean break which Mr McFarlane husband would need to fund from income he and his second wife had earned since the divorce.

The award was as follows: from the 25th June 2007 Mr McFarlane had to pay the first Mrs. McFarlane:
40% of his net income up to £750,000,
20% of his net income up to £1,000,000,
and 10% of his net income above that.

This would continue until the 31st May 2015, when Mr McFarlane retires.

The judge considered that Mrs. McFarlane would then receive an unearned tax-free income of approximately £350,000. The award was backdated by two years, so that Mr McFarlane would have to pay the first Mrs McFarlane and additional £200,000 immediately. If the parties had divorced in Europe then there would have been no ongoing maintenance claim by Mrs McFarlane.

This award appears unfair to Mr McFarlane, who albeit has a highly successful career, must have an exceptional talent and be extremely dedicated in order to amass such an income, as must his second wife. The first Mrs McFarlane does not work and has an income, as the judges pointed out, in excess of her needs.

It is not surprising that England and Wales are regarded as the divorce capital of the world.

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