Galbraith-Marten v De Renée [2023] EWFC 25320 December 2023

Published: 03/01/2024 13:40

Cobb J. Application of James v Seymour formula for child maintenance under Sch 1 in this long-running case.

The substantial history of this extremely long-running case is set out in prior decisions. Briefly, this was a very short marriage and W was unsuccessful in repeated attempts to seek further provision under Part III MFPA and in several (but not all) applications to vary provision under Sch 1. She is presently the subject of an extended civil restraint order.

Under Sch 1, F was ordered to pay £1,315 pm to M for the benefit of the child. On her fourth set of Schedule 1 proceedings in 2022 a consent order was made for £2,684 pm based on the CB v KB formula. Following the decision in James v Seymour F applied to have this order set aside. The order was set-aside in August 2023 on the basis of written submissions and the present hearing was to determine the correct figure for child maintenance.

F argued that it was preferable to use the James v Seymour formula as it provided clear and logical guidelines to decide cases consistently and efficiently. It was also argued that there needs to be a cogent reason not to adopt the formula-based approach.

Mr Justice Cobb sets out at [20] that the formula is so durable because:

(i) It is linked to the payer’s income (much like CMS).

(ii) It reflects the payer’s responsibility for other children.

(iii) It has been adopted by many separating parties and achieves consistency and efficiency.

(iv) It would be arbitrary and unhelpful if the computation below the CMS regime were radically different from Schedule 1 or s 25 maintenance.

(v) It provides certainty and clarity, predictability, and accessibility.

However, he emphasised at [27] that:

‘No statutory formula can or should replace the exercise of the statutory discretion mandated by paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 CA 1989.’

The James v Seymour calculation was only the starting point. In this case, however, its outcome was very close to the RPI calculation which would normally be used as the starting point in a variation case. The James v Seymour figure was therefore appropriate as the end point. Maintenance was awarded at £1,960 pm.

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