The topic of spousal maintenance has made the front page and headlines in several national newspapers and caught the attention of thousands of divorcing couples throughout the UK and Channel Islands, with titles such as “Get a Job Judge Tells Ex Wife” or “Divorce Laws Should be Tougher on Women“.
Prior to the seminal case of White v White  1 AC 596 ancillary relief practice was to provide for the financially weaker party’s (usually the wife’s) “reasonable needs”. In other words, once the wife’s financial needs were satisfied, the family’s remaining available assets were for the husband to keep. The case of White v White ended this approach, with the Court finding that there should be no bias in favour of the money-earner or against the home-maker/ child-carer as each contributes equally to the family. As a result, which party earned the money and built up the assets became largely irrelevant, and therefore, there would be no good reason why a wife should be confined to her needs, leaving the husband with the much larger balance of the family assets. White v White therefore represented a sea change in the approach of the Court to capital division. Case law since White v White has continued to demonstrate a trend towards greater equality in the distribution of capital on divorce.