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Court of Appeal rejects ex-wife's claim based on lost earnings

Former standard of living only a ‘guide’

A headteacher who gave up her career to be looked after by her husband may not claim compensation for lost earnings, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Katriona MacFarlane had claimed Dr James MacFarlane should give her a settlement to make up for the loss of her career and pension benefits.

Her appeal has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal who ruled that "no-one had twisted her arm" when she gave up full-time work.

On behalf of Dr MacFarlane, his solicitor, John Hooper, said:

"This is yet another example of the judiciary taking an increasingly pragmatic approach towards resolving these types of problems."

The couple, from Derbyshire, shared a home in Darley Dale before their divorce. In November 2015 Mrs MacFarlane had been granted half the proceeds of the sale of their home, plus a £140,000 lump sum from her ex-husband.

At first instance Judge Rogers had decided that Dr MacFarlane had not benefited financially from the arrangement, or had any personal time freed up to conduct more work on his own.

But at the Court of Appeal, it was argued on behalf of Mrs MacFarlane that it was wrong that she was not compensated for her time off the career ladder. Instead she fought for a settlement that would give her a fund of £700,000 with which to purchase a home.

Dismissing Mrs MacFarlane's appeal, Mr Justice Moylan said Judge Rogers had been right to refuse Mrs MacFarlane in 2015. Mr Justice Moylan said he did not agree that "need should be met at a level similar or comparable to the standard of living during the marriage", as this standard was only one factor and was only a guide as to how much an ex-wife or husband deserves.

Mr Justice Moylan said the decision for Mrs MacFarlane to leave her job as a headmistress had been a joint one, and that the evidence of what she would be earning had she stayed was "unclear".

For a report in the Telegraph, click here.

17/2/17