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7 January 2014

English courts still top the league for generous divorce payouts

Judges in English courts have greater freedoms than counterparts in other countries when it comes to setting maintenance payments after divorce, research by a international law firm has found, reports The Telegraph.

This tends to result in maintenance payments ordered in English courts being both larger and longer-lasting, and is the reason for London - or England and Wales more generally - being nicknamed "the divorce capital of the world".

The Family Law division of Withers, the international law firm, sought to explain how English courts differed from those elsewhere in arriving at maintenance settlements. Its research looked at 15 other jurisdictions including France, Germany and Spain in Europe; New York and California in the US; and South Africa and New Zealand, among others.

It concluded by saying the scope of "judicial discretion" in English courts was greater than elsewhere - allowing judges to increase the size and duration of maintenance payments. "Most other jurisdictions apply a range of considerations to give judges scope and independence in their decision-making, but England and Wales stands out for the broad judicial discretion it applies in considering all aspects of each and every case," the report concluded.

It also highlighted the fact that 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."

Read more on this story here.