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Our blog provides illustrated practical guides for those going through the divorce process, plus news on divorce, money and family breakdown.

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7 May 2013

Law firm says women in cities get higher divorce settlements than those in the provinces


Wives living in small towns and villages get worse divorce settlements than those who split in big cities, according to new research, reports The Daily Mail.

The disparity is so great than growing numbers of women from the north of England are ‘racing’ to have their cases be heard in London courts.

Lawyers claim there is now a ‘maintenance map’ which dictates the generosity of divorce settlements and the frequency of maintenance payments.

According to the research wives who had their cases heard in provincial courts were less likely to be granted maintenance from their ex-husband in addition to splitting marital assets.

Legal firm Pannone analysed some 700 cases from the last two years.

Partner Liz Cowell claims wives from London, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds or Birmingham could expect to receive ongoing financial support from their former spouse.

But those in smaller towns were told to ‘stand on their own two feet’.

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

‘Courts have an obligation to have a financial clean break between spouses on divorce, if possible. If that cannot be achieved, they look to meet the immediate needs of a wife for things such as a house from any joint capital which couples might have built up as well as providing ongoing maintenance.

‘Divorce law is designed to be discretionary, so that it can be flexible enough to produce outcomes suiting the particular needs of individuals. That also means there can be great variety in settlements.

‘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.’

It effectively means wives face a postcode lottery over whether they will get extra support.

Some parts of the country are considered more ‘wife-friendly’ while judges in other areas will urge a ‘clean break’.

(Another reason to use Intelligent Divorce – to avoid this regional disparity!)