The Quantum of a maintenance assessment
The judge emphasised that the standard of living during the marriage is relevant to the amount of spousal maintenance, but it should not be the “lodestar”. Rather, he suggests that the court should look prospectively towards both parties’ eventual transition to financial independence and not allow itself to be unduly restricted by retrospective considerations of the marital standard of living. Nonetheless, he says, any reduction in standard of living should not fall disproportionately on one party.
Similarly, the judge recommended that the court should approach the budgets prepared by the parties circumspectly. The court should not simply analyse each item of a budget individually but should consider the budget as a whole in the context of the resources available to the party.
In the event that the maintenance claim is made against the discretionary bonus element of a respondent’s income, any award should be expressed as a percentage of the net bonus, capped to a stated maximum. In such circumstances, the award made against the respondent’s base salary should be designed to meet the applicant’s everyday expenditure, whereas any award against a discretionary bonus should be attributable to the more discretionary, or sporadic, items in the applicant’s budget.
The final part on this to follow….