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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

07 JAN 2015

‘Murphy’s law’: are term orders appropriate? (£)

‘Murphy’s law’: are term orders appropriate? (£)
Jonathan Tod, Counsel, 29 Bedford Row
Talitha Brookman, Solicitor, Brookman Solicitors

The recent High Court decision in Murphy v Murphy [2014] EWHC 2263 (Fam), [2014] Fam Law 1520 provides an important restatement of the statutory framework and case-law concerning the term of adult periodical payments orders. This decision stresses the importance of safeguarding the financial position of the weaker party. The lower courts in the last several years have drawn back from making joint lives periodical payments orders. Terms are often made on the basis of arbitrary assessment of a wife/mother’s future earning capacity. Husbands have sought to argue that this development in the law is appropriate and that the days of joint lives orders should now end (or be orders made sparingly). Baroness Deech presented a Private Member’s Bill to the House of Lords in 2014 which stresses the desirability of term maintenance orders and a clean break – a Bill which sought to radically change the law. In an important restatement of the law relating to the term of adult periodical payments orders, Holman J in Murphy firmly sets out the principles that should apply, stating that, ‘the law currently is not the law as it would be if Baroness Deech’s Bill is ever enacted. It is, of course, the current law which I must apply.’

The full version of this article appears in the January 2015 issue of Family Law.

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