Under Section 27 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA 73), a party to a marriage may apply to the Court for financial provision where the other party has failed to maintain them or a child of the marriage.

There was formerly a common law duty for a husband to provide for a wife. This was established because historically a wife was not allowed to own property or enter into contracts. Any property owned by a woman when she got married became the property of her husband.

In the recent case of Villiers v Villiers [2022] EWCA Civ 772[2022] All ER (D) 32 (Jun) the Wife applied for financial provision under Section 27, MCA 73. The proceedings were lengthy, but the Wife’s application was ultimately dismissed by Mostyn J. In dismissing the application, one of the issues relied upon by Mostyn J was that the common law duty was ‘the foundation on which all of this legislation is built’.

The wife appealed the decision and her appeal was upheld. The Court of Appeal found that the common law duty no longer has any relevance and that it came to an end when the Domestic Proceedings and Magistrates Court Act 1978 came in to force.

If you require any advice about any of the issues raised in this article, please contact our specialist family team on 01524 846846.