We have been here before
My colleague, Scott Cochrane, blogged on this issue back in November of last year: http://www.brodies.com/blog/family-law/maintenance-claims-rush-court/. He outlined how there can be a rush to Court to make a maintenance claim following the breakdown in a marriage; and why – from a financial perspective – it can be advisable to rush to Court.
Scott’s blog points out the very big differences between Scotland and England in how our 2 countries treat claims for on-going financial support between separated spouses, and the very big difference it can make in financial terms.
Scott’s blog followed a case going through the Courts in England – Villiers v Villiers. The case went to the Court of Appeal in England and their judgement was issued yesterday. Shortly put, the Court of Appeal upheld the original decision.
What does all this mean?
In basic terms, if a couple live in Scotland when married, and separate, if one spouse moves to England that spouse could seek “maintenance” in England once moved there. That could result in a much from favourable financial award than would result in Scotland.
There are steps that can be taken in certain circumstances to remove this risk, and any specialist family and divorce lawyer will be able to advise on those steps. Again, Scott’s blog deals with this.
As I see it the law creates a very big problem: The last place a separating couple want to end up is in Court. For a whole host of reasons they are better engaging in a constructive dialogue with the help of their advisors to reach a sensible agreement. That saves time, mental energy, needless acrimony and a lot of money.
As the law stands on this issue it can mean that from the outset the couple end up in Court taking things down a route that is best avoided. However, even in such circumstances, once an action has been raised in relation to “maintenance”, jurisdiction is secured in one country or the other, and in my view what should follow is still a constructive dialogue rather than a “fight” in Court.