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financial provision order


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An order for periodical payments or a lump sum made for the purpose of adjusting the financial position of the parties to a marriage and any children of the family. Such orders may be made on or after the granting of a decree of divorce, nullity, or judicial separation or when one party to the marriage has failed to provide, or to make a proper contribution towards, reasonable maintenance for the other or a child of the family. On divorce, judicial separation, or nullity, the court also has the power to make property adjustment orders. In determining whether to make financial provision orders, the court has a very wide discretion under section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. It has an overriding duty to give first consideration to the welfare of any child under the age of 18 years and to try to achieve a clean break wherever possible. The Act lists seven matters that the court must take into account as part of the circumstances it is to consider. These include: the financial resources and needs each of the parties has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future; the age of the parties and the length of the marriage; the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage; the contributions that each of the parties has made to the welfare of the family, which include looking after the home or caring for the family; and the conduct of the parties, but only where it would be very unjust to ignore such conduct. A recent landmark case in the House of Lords (White v White [2001] 1AC 596 (HL) made it clear that the implicit objective of section 25 is to achieve a fair outcome and that there should be no discrimination between husbands and wives and their respective roles (i.e. if one spouse stays at home while the other goes out to work, this fact is immaterial). A starting point should be that assets are equally divided, unless there is a good reason for not doing so. Additional cases: Lambert v Lambert [2002] EWCA Civ 1685, [2003] 2 WLR 63; Miller v Miller: McFarlane v McFarlane [2006] UKHL 24, [2006] 2 AC 618. See also maintenance pending suit; property adjustment order.

Subjects: Law.


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