H’s application to vary and/or terminate a spousal periodical payments order, which was agreed by consent in 2017 in England. The spousal periodical payments order was a fixed percentage of H’s income, as opposed to being calculated by reference to W’s needs. W cross-applied to dismiss the application and disputed the jurisdiction of the England and Wales to determine the application on the ground that Luxembourg (her habitual residence) retained exclusive jurisdiction. Since the UK had left the European Union, the EU Maintenance Regulation no longer applied, and Article 18 of the Hague Convention had replaced this provision; –. Court was satisfied it had jurisdiction due to H seeking to vary the original consent order as opposed to a Luxembourg order dismissing H’s earlier variation application.
In order to succeed, H had to prove that there had been a change of circumstances to justify variation, as per section 31 MCA 1973; –. H’s application was successful, and the spousal periodical payments order was discharged as it would be unjust for H to be expected to pay the same level of spousal maintenance given that the parties’ incomes were now very similar, compared to the position in 2017. H’s circumstances had deteriorated such that his income had simply fallen so far. W could also no longer justify a maintenance order based on need given the increase to her income. W had sufficient resources to meet her needs and therefore could adjust without undue hardship to the termination of her maintenance, even though the very large sums that she had been receiving were no more; .
Stephanie Coker is a barrister at 5SAH Chambers, she practices exclusively in Family Law and is a qualified mediator.