Family Law Court of Appeal decision – maintenance Orders

Important Family Law Court of Appeal decision in relation to maintenance Orders in the context of proper provision

 

In a recent decision of the Court of Appeal it overturned the High Court decision in relation to maintenance in a case of NO -v- PQ.

This was a 23-year marriage where the parties were 55 years married, had three children aged 24, 20 and 19, two of whom were dependant and where it was acknowledged that the children had certain challenges in life.

The marriage had ended in 2014 at which point the Husband who had inherited a farm of approximately 100 acres (valued at €1.1million) had borrowed money from his family to give the wife a sum of €200,000 to enable her to purchase a property which she was able to buy unencumbered.

It was acknowledged during the marriage that the wife had worked on the farm and had made significant contributions and had raised the children and had also taken various steps to upskill herself but at the time was not working.

The High Court awarded the wife a further sum of €120,000.00 and maintenance of €1,200.00 for the children during their dependency as well as a sum of €800.00 for her in spousal maintenance for a period of four years.

The wife appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the sum of €800.00 in spousal maintenance was insufficient and that a limit of four years did not amount to proper provision.

In making this decision the Court of Appeal made the following findings:

That the High Court had overestimated the wife’s ability to earn an income into the future.

  1. That the High Court had not properly valued the contribution which the wife had made to the family over the 23 years of the marriage.
  2. That the debt which the Husband had accumulated of €130,000 from his father (in order to fund the payment of €200,000 to allow the wife to purchase the family home) was not a factor which should have been taken into account by the Court in making its award of maintenance.
  3. The Court increased the sum of spousal maintenance to €1,200 per month and directed that the payment continue until such time as the wife was in receipt of pension payments.

This case highlights the wide discretion which the Courts have in making proper provision. The Court of Appeal simply took a different view of that of the High Court in determining the ability of the wife to earn an income into the future and no doubt took into account the various challenges which the children had which the Court presumably concluded would prejudice the Wife’s ability to earn a substantial income.

 

For any advice on this or any other Family Law matter please contact Brendan Dillon or Lorna McArdle on 01-2960666.