(Family Division; Coleridge J; 16 December 2005)
Under a consent order the wife was to receive continuing periodical payments at the rate of £16,000 index linked during joint lives or until the wife's remarriage. The husband applied for a downward variation, based on his own imminent 47% drop in income, but also on the wife's 3-year cohabitation.
The court must nowadays factor into its analysis and calculations not only numerically, but in principle, the existence of a lengthy and settled period of cohabitation and the likelihood of its continuing indefinitely. Whatever reduction was ordered, a wife must be entitled to a tapering off of the liability to allow her to acclimatise. There was no reason why nowadays the court should not order a termination on cohabitation after a certain period. It had been necessary in this case to review the overall financial picture of both households; parties cohabiting were required to be as financially open as married couples.