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Divorcing wives find city courts more generous, according to Pannone’s research

Provincial courts less likely to order ongoing spousal maintenance

Divorcing wives whose financial remedy claims proceed in city courts are more likely to secure generous settlements than those who use provincial courts, according to research by Pannone.

The firm says that its research suggests that wives whose cases were heard by provincial courts were less likely to receive spousal maintenance on top of a share of joint marital assets.

The firm analysed more than 700 of its own cases from the last two years and drew on the additional experiences of family lawyers from around the country who had attended a series of maintenance seminars hosted by partner Liz Cowell.

Ms Cowell said that whilst wives in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol or Leeds might reasonably expect to receive ongoing support, many counterparts whose cases were handled by courts outside major conurbations were being urged "to stand on their own two feet".

She added that the picture amounted to a "maintenance map", illustrating significant differences in the way in which courts interpreted how divorcing couples should divide their assets.

She continued:

"It is a complicated picture which reflects the differing interpretations certain courts appear to place on the needs of wives after divorce.

"We came across many instances of wives from the North wanting their cases heard in London because they felt they had a better chance of securing capital and generous maintenance whilst, in the North East, family lawyers told me that maintenance awards were infrequent at best.

"However, it's not simply a North-South settlement divide. There are considerable local and regional variations which demonstrate the impact of discretion on divorcees' circumstances."

Ms Cowell said that whilst Pannone's findings highlighted those areas of the country whose courts were regarded by fellow family lawyers as being relatively 'wife-friendly', they might also indicate the attitudes of husbands towards maintenance.

"It is not as though men are necessarily opposed to the idea of making suitable provision for their ex-wives on divorce. They realise, though, that any maintenance order creates the possibility of the nature of support being revised upwards or even capitalised into a single lump sum at some point in the future.

"Such a scenario might be regarded as unpalatable by some men whose circumstances improved after their marriages ended and who didn't want former spouses returning with a claim merely because they had become better-off.

"For them, making a clean break could appear to be a very sound financial move."