7. If I got a large sum of money after the divorce (e.g. winning lottery or inherit a fortune from family), do I have to share with my ex-spouse from the maintenance?
This Question can be answered in two parts:-
Before the granting of maintenance order
The Court in assessing maintenance to be made for a divorced spouse is obliged to have regard not only to the financial resources and needs, obligations and responsibilities which the parties have at present, but also prospective assets which each of them is likely to have in the foreseeable future.
Prospective assets include, but not limited to, lump sum pension payable on retirement, capital sum due to be received under a settlement or which might be received on the dissolution of a partnership, gratuity payable on termination of contract etc. In many cases, the prospective asset consists not of something in which the party already has a vested or contingent interest but simply something which he or she is likely to inherit.
The issue is whether the asset is one which the party is likely to have in the foreseeable future. If it is, then the Court will have regard to it in considering whether to make a lump sum order, or whether to adjourn the application for further payment.
Thus, where the husband has reasonable prospect of receiving substantial assets, it may affect the amount of the lump sum which he is ordered to pay to the wife, or they may justify an order which provides the wife with capital or further capital on the happening of a future event or they may make it appropriate to adjourn her application until that event occurs.
Because of the Court's duty to have regard to the foreseeable future, it is necessary to take into consideration not only existing liabilities but also those which are likely to be incurred in the foreseeable future.
Similarly, the prospective assets and liabilities of the wife have to be taken into account in the application for maintenance.
After the order of maintenance was granted
The Court has wide powers to vary or discharge certain orders (whether or not made by consent) or to temporarily suspend and revive any provision contained therein.
The Court has a wide discretion in variation proceedings. It can take into account increases in both the capital and income resources of the payer.
There is a recent UK Court of Appeal case ruling that when seeking variation of periodical payments, there is no need to show a change of circumstances, or an exceptional or material change of circumstances. As the Court has an absolute discretion, it can look at the case afresh, and need not regard the original order as the starting point.
However, when exercising its powers in variation proceedings, the Court must consider all the circumstances of the case, it must give first consideration to the welfare of any child of the family aged under 18, and any changes of circumstance including any change in any of the matters to which the Court was required to have regard when making the original order.
The Court will be vigilant to ensure that the variation application is not a disguised form of appeal.