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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 July, 2004, 15:08 GMT 16:08 UK
Q&A: Karen Parlour divorce case

By Jon Silverman
Legal affairs analyst

Karen Parlour, ex-wife of Arsenal star Ray Parlour, is entitled to receive one third of his future earnings to acknowledge the role she played in his success, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

What does this ruling mean?

For the Parlours, it means that the personal maintenance award of 250,000 a year, made in the High Court in January, will be upped to 406,500 pa, to run for four years, when it will be reviewed.

It is likely that future payments, after the four-year period, will be reduced in line with a predicted fall in Ray Parlour's earnings.

What was the judges' decision based on ?

Lord Justice Thorpe made it plain that the ruling had been made because, in the case of the Parlours - and one other case on which they gave judgment on Wednesday - there was a huge excess of income left over after taking into account Mrs Parlour's maintenance needs.

It was "discriminatory and wrong ", said the judge, for the earner - in this case, Ray Parlour - to have sole control over that surplus during the next four years.

Who will it affect ?

It will apply only to cases where an earner's income is so high that, even after both party's reasonable needs and those of the children are taken into account, there is a still a substantial surplus.

In the vast majority of divorces, a wife's entitlement to annual maintenance payments will continue to be assessed on her need.

And matrimonial assets - a car, house etc - will continue to be split 50-50.

What are the wider implications ?

Since an important law lords judgment in 2000, wives of high earners have won substantially increased maintenance awards in a string of cases.

Now, there will be an expectation that they can share equally in a spouse's future earnings.

But the wording of the Parlour judgment makes it plain that it should not be seen as a carte blanche for spouses to live the high life on their extra income.

They will be expected to make provisions, through prudent investment or setting up a business, for their future.

Is this likely to affect the way high earners approach marriage ?

Because of the higher awards being made by the courts, the US idea of the pre-nuptial agreement has become more common in the UK.

This applies to couples where one partner's income substantially exceeds the other.

The courts here are not legally bound to accept such agreements, but in practice, judges tend to adhere to the terms of the agreement if each partner has received independent legal advice when the contract was drawn up.

Expect to see a fresh impetus for pre-nuptials in the wake of the Parlour judgment.

Ray Parlour profile
07 Jul 04  |  Arsenal



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