New research finds British courts give the most generous divorce payouts

Published: 7th January 2014

New research by an international law firm has highlighted that courts in England and Wales give the highest maintenance payouts following a divorce, due to a higher level of freedom allowed to judges in Britain, compared to judges in the US, New Zealand, South Africa and in the rest of Europe.

The report, which looked at divorce maintenance payouts across 15 jurisdictions around the world, concluded that the level of 'judicial discretion' of judges in Britain was much greater than anywhere else, which allows British judges more power and authority to increase the overall duration and value of the maintenance payments.

These longer lasting and higher value settlements have lead to London being nicknamed "the divorce capital of the world".

The report also highlighted the fact that unlike the UK, other countries' courts considered aspects of fault when arriving at settlements. Suzanne Kingston, Wither's family partner, said: "Another interesting finding was the number of jurisdictions that still used the concept of ‘fault-based divorce’ (including factors such as adultery or desertion) as a ground to refuse a claim for spousal maintenance."

The generous settlements awarded by British courts have not gone unnoticed and have created many headlines in the media, with many estranged spouses in other countries opting to fight their divorce cases in the UK for the chance of a much larger settlement. The way that the British courts are viewed outside of our country divides opinion; some applaud our systems appeared favouritism towards the financial underdog believing this is a much fairer way to operate. Others believe the UK system provides more opportunity for overinflated payouts for spouses that don't necessarily deserve it.

All aspects of family law, including pre-nuptial agreements and divorce settlements in particular are set to be reviewed in the UK by the Law Commission to ensure that the system continues to be fair in the future.

If you are thinking about divorce or would like to discuss any aspects of family law, contact the team at K J Smith Solicitors today for honest and impartial advice about your situation. Call our team on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor), or 020 7070 0330 (Central London).

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