YOUR long marriage has ended.
The finances were contentious and you have been left paying maintenance. Still, it’s an amount you can at least afford, even if it’s painful.
A few years pass and something changes – perhaps you sell your company for a good sum. Well, it’s your money isn’t it? You did a deal at the time you divorced, so your “ex” doesn’t need to be consulted or even informed, surely? The good life beckons.
Would that life and law were that simple! There’s still a way for your “ex” to look for some more. Where a maintenance order is in existence, she can apply to the court to vary the amount you pay – upwards, obviously.
If you now have capital which was unavailable when you divorced, she can ask the court to capitalise the increased amount and make it payable in a lump sum. It may not be – strictly speaking – a second bite at the cherry, but it will certainly feel like it.
So how can an increase in maintenance be justified? Well, there are two main ways.
The first is that the original amount was not enough to enable your “ex” to live to the standard she did during that marriage. In all fairness, this is usually the case anyway.
If the same financial resources have to support two households where they used to support one, the laws of arithmetic mean that for all except the super-rich, the households will have to live more modestly.
If you now have more money, you can raise her standard of living back to the previous level, and she can justify an increase.
More rarely, there is a different argument. This arises where your “ex” gave up a potentially lucrative career to prioritise your family.
If this was the case, she can argue that she should be compensated for that lost career and its earning opportunities.
Usually this is done when the first financial order is made, by an adjustment to the amount of capital.
If there wasn’t enough money to do this back then, she can always ask for more maintenance later if your wealth has significantly increased.
Arguably there is a third reason for asking for an increase in maintenance – to balance risk between the two of you.
If you become poorer, you can apply to the court for a reduction in maintenance.
If the courts only ever allowed your ex to receive an amount to cover her needs, that means she could only ever have either enough to live off (if you can afford to pay it) or too little (if you can’t).
That’s not fair, so courts will occasionally allow her to have more than she needs if you have more than enough to meet both her needs and your own.
If you’re rich enough to be able to do that, I shouldn’t bother losing sleep over it!