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Factors the court takes into account in deciding financial cases

Traditional roles of marriage are changing and more husbands are choosing to stay at home if their wife earns more and has the better career.

Such was the case for Rupert Nightingale whose wife Kirsten Turner, 41 earned £420,000 a year as an accountant and partner at Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

They met as students at Sussex University in Brighton, and lived together for more than a decade when they married in 2002. During the marriage Mr Nightingale took on the role of a house husband and provided the childcare for their one child. Prior to that he was picture editor and photo editor for Men’s Health magazine until 2003 when he became a commercial still life photographer. After having one child, they split up seven years later and Ms Turner moved out in August 2010.

In 2010 Mr Nightingale was awarded a lump sum of £300,000 and Ms Turner was ordered to pay him maintenance of about £50,000 a year by the divorce courts.

There was also an order for sale of the former matrimonial home in Wimbledon worth £1 million which Mr Nightingale lived in. The court also ordered that his maintenance be calculated on the basis he sidelines his artistic endeavours and earns a full-time wage which was expected to be £36,000 a year so his maintenance was discounted by that amount.

Mr Nightingale appealed the decision and has now been granted permission to appeal on a date to be fixed claiming that he wants to stay in the house, with maintenance payments increased to more than £85,000 a year.

The case raises lots of issues in particular the courts approach to deciding how to distribute a couple’s assets and income. In doing this the court will apply the factors set out in section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

Section 25 (1) - requires the court to have regard to all the circumstances of the case, with first consideration being given to the welfare of a minor child of the family who has not attained the age of 18.

Section 25 2(a) - The 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, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire.

Section 25 2(b) - The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.

Section 25 2(c) - The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage.

Section 25 2(d) - The age of each of the parties to the marriage and the duration of the marriage.

Section 25 2(e) - Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage.

Section 25 2(f) - 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.

Section 25 2(g) - The conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it.

Section 25 2(h) - In the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring.

The courts will also look at similar cases. Financial relief is a complex area of family law and section 25 explains the numerous factors that a court will look at in deciding each case.

Here at Slater and Gordon we have the expertise to advise and represent you whilst trying at all times to reach a financial settlement. We also offer alternative dispute resolution including family mediation.

For an initial consultation contact us here and we'll be happy to help you.

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