England and Wales still remains one of the most generous jurisdictions for financially dependent spouses, despite greater judicial appetite for making ex-spouses provide for themselves, research by an international firm reveals.

According to a report from Penningtons Manches, England and Wales is the fifth most generous jurisdiction for awarding ongoing maintenance, behind India, California, Singapore and Ireland. Scotland is eighth.

At the other end of the scale, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Finland, Japan and Russia are more likely to make ex-spouses support themselves. In these jurisdictions, there is little or no ongoing maintenance for ex-spouses, the report says. 

The research was based on analysis of the current legislation and case law across 16 jurisdictions.

While historically courts in England and Wales have had a wide discretion to make generous awards to financially dependent former partners, the report says there is an increasing expectation for ex-spouses to quickly become self-sufficient.

From 2014 onwards, cases have increasingly considered the possibility of transition towards financial independence, even if it involves some hardship for the recipient.

James Stewart, family partner at Penningtons Manches and a co-author of the report, said: ‘Gone are the days in England and Wales when the weaker financial party could expect lifelong financial support without examination of their earning potential and the lifestyle adjustments they could make to become self-sufficient.

‘Any international couple contemplating divorce would be well advised to look into the legislation governing spousal maintenance in their respective home countries to determine which jurisdiction would be most likely to meet their expectations for support following the breakdown of their relationship.’