Below details the final part on out lates blog posts on a recent ruling
Calculating the term of a maintenance award
The starting point in considering the term of spousal maintenance is the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, Ss.25A. The court should aim to impose a clean break as soon as it is just and reasonable to do so and for a term which allows the payee to adjust to financial independence without undue hardship. This need not preclude a degree of hardship in making the transition to independence, it simply should not be undue.
It is more helpful when considering the duration of spousal maintenance to consider the use of what is known as the section 28(1A) bar, and whether the court will impose a term for maintenance that is extendable. To impose a term that is not extendable the court must be satisfied that on a balance of probabilities, financial independence will have been achieved by the time the term expires. If this question is finely balanced, then the court should favour the economically weaker party and decline to impose a time limit.
In conclusion, the emphasis of the legislative principles underlying spousal maintenance, and in particular, the necessity for the court to hold the eventual financial independence of the parties as its guiding light in assessing an award that is just and reasonable. In other words, it is still very discretionary and a risk to those putting themselves in the hands of the courts!