B e f o r e :
(Sitting in public)
|JULIE ANNE MURPHY||Petitioner|
|- and -|
MR S. WEBSTER (instructed by Hughes Fowler Carruthers) appeared on behalf of the respondent husband.
Crown Copyright ©
MR JUSTICE HOLMAN:
"… at which hearing they reached a compromise (on most but not all issues)…"
"10. The following issues shall be determined at a hearing listed on the first open date after 1 June 2014 before a High Court judge:
(a) whether the initial step down in the petitioner's maintenance should be defined in time, and whether there should be further step down in the provision; and
(b) whether the maintenance for the petitioner should be paid during joint lives (per the petitioner) or should be the subject of a term order, ceasing when the children finish their secondary education (per the respondent)."
"6. The [husband] shall make or cause to be made to the [wife] periodical payments until the [wife's] remarriage or further order of the court as follows (the question of a term on the maintenance order being determined in accordance with paragraph 10 below):
(a) at the rate of £21,000 per annum payable monthly in advance by way of standing order into the [wife's] bank account with effect from 1 January 2014;
(b) £10,000 per annum payable annually with effect from 30 October 2014.
It is further directed that:
(i) the maintenance payable to the [wife] shall reduce by an amount equal to 50% of the [wife's] earned income at the end of her first year of paid employment."
"Prior to having children I worked in online merchandising for Selfridges … The contracted hours at Selfridges were 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., but in reality I regularly worked from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on around three or four days each week. On the other day (or if I was lucky, two days) I could arrive at 9 a.m. but would not leave until 7 p.m. at the earliest. … I could not return to a role structured such as my previous employment that I had with Selfridges, as the hours are too demanding and it would be impossible to care for the children. …"
"This wife is comparatively well placed - she has substantial capital of her own … She has never left the workplace and has her well-deserved reputation open which to build a business in order to produce a more substantial income."
In that particular case the children concerned were already aged 12 and 9, which just shows how far removed that case was from this case, and how fact-specific all these cases are.
"Where the court decides in such a case to make a periodical payments … order in favour of a party to the marriage [which this court has done by the order of 7 November 2013], the court shall in particular consider whether it would be appropriate to require those payments to be made … only for such term as would in the opinion of the court be sufficient to enable the party in whose favour the order is made to adjust without undue hardship to the termination of his or her financial dependence on the other party."
It is extremely important to observe that that sub-section requires the court, as a first step, to form an "opinion". Second, the critical word in the sub-section is not "should" but "would". In other words, the court has to be able to form an opinion that by the end of the selected term the payee will be able to adjust without undue hardship to the termination.