Former director of software company appeals against a suspended prison sentence after failing to pay court-ordered maintenance
The former director of a software company has won his appeal against a suspended prison sentence after failing to pay his ex-wife court-ordered maintenance. The couple were married for 25 years and separated in 2013.
The husband was successful and they lived a prosperous lifestyle however they also spent extravagantly. By the time the case came before the court significant debts were accumulating and the parties’ assets were no longer sufficient to meet both parties’ needs.
The wife was a former stay-at-home mother who gave up her career years before and had little earning capacity. As a result, and as priority was given to housing the couple’s children, the wife was awarded most of the remaining funds (£500,000) whereas the husband received £66,000.
The husband was also ordered to pay the wife £2,000 per month in maintenance and received a six week suspended prison sentence after failing to do so. At the husband’s appeal of this prison sentence his barrister stated that the husband had not deliberately neglected to pay maintenance, his company had gone into administration, he was evicted from his flat, relying on the charity of his new partner and that he was ‘homeless, insolvent and unable to meet his obligations’. The husband’s barrister then went on to argue that threatening the husband with a prison sentence over the unpaid maintenance was a ‘curious survivor’ of the Victorian era of debtors’ prisons which violated his human rights and is ‘not in keeping with the modern view that husbands and wives approach this court on an equal footing’.
Following these arguments the wife’s barrister announced that they would accept the dismissal of the prison sentence however the wife was still opposed to the proposed clean break on the basis that there is a ‘complete absence of clarity’ about the husband’s income, due to ‘contradictory statements and complete lack of disclosure’.
The Judges have reserved judgment and will give the ruling at a later date. Without a clean break, the wife could again seek to enforce the debt, putting him at risk of a prison sentence once more.