Re A (Schedule 1, Overspend, Costs Clawback) [2022] EWFC 2121 March 2022

Published: 24/03/2022 09:00

Recorder Chandler QC.

Schedule 1 proceedings in which M sought that F clear all her liabilities and provide additional periodical payments above the agreed £8,000 pcm for the costs of a nanny.

M was described as 'spending money as if it was going out of fashion' in incurring personal debt of c.£165,533 from financial institutions and family members whilst in receipt of £5,000 pcm interim maintenance. Litigants do not have a carte blanche to spend on the assumption that the paying party will ultimately pick up the tab.

The judge disagreed that A’s best interests meant that M must be debt free. The agreed maintenance figure was backdated, providing an additional lump sum which cleared 'hard' bank and credit card liabilities. This distinction between hard debt and family debt extended to awarding M’s 'extraordinarily' high unpaid costs, subject to a claw-back provision to reflect the principle that F should not have to pay the costs of M’s unsuccessful appeal of an interim maintenance decision and an overspend on budgeted costs. GN v MA [2015] EWHC 3939 (Fam) was considered to refer to recoupment of costs from periodical payments (as F sought) as a possibility, not as clear support for the proposition.

M’s argument that additional costs of a nanny would enable her to restart her career fell on the impermissible side of the line as a claim for the benefit of a parent. This element of her claim was dismissed.

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