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Collardeau-Fuchs V Fuchs [2022] EWFC 6

A wife’s application for maintenance pending suit in high net-worth financial proceedings

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The parties were involved in costly financial proceedings, which were to be adjudicated at a private FDR and were concerned primarily with whether the pre-nuptial agreement and post-nuptial amendments to the pre-nuptial agreement should be upheld. The case in front of the court, however, dealt solely with the preliminary question of the amount of interim maintenance to be paid by the husband to the wife pending the final resolution of the case.

The parties, who enjoyed a very high standard of living when they were married, were significantly far apart in what they regarded as "reasonable" maintenance pending suit: the wife sought £350,000 per month and the husband countered with approximately £31,000 (though both amounts were subject to multiple revisions before the hearing). As such, the parties were £99,000 per month apart, an annual rate of £1,188,000. Though there was a preliminary dispute regarding the husband's alleged failure to meet various costs that he had agreed to previously, this was dealt with by way of undertakings at the commencement of the hearing.

In determining the wife's application, Mr Justice Mostyn reminded himself that the husband must pay to the wife sufficient sums as would meet her "reasonable needs." He held that the term "reasonable needs" must be interpreted in light of the standards enjoyed by the parties during the marriage. Since parties were of considerable means, the wife's "reasonable needs" had to be considered according to the standards of the ultra-rich, rather than what would seem generous by the standards of "ordinary people." The Judge therefore awarded the wife maintenance pending suit, to include maintenance for the children, in the sum of £71,300 per month.

Case summary by Bianca Jackson, Barrister, Coram Chambers

For full case, please see BAILII