In divorce and civil partnership dissolution the Duxbury Tables may play a part – whether your case is heard by a judge or not. The Duxbury calculation is one method by which a court can arrive at an appropriate lump sum figure to replace regular maintenance payments. The calculation also provides a useful reference point for parties attempting to negotiate a financial settlement without the court’s assistance.
Why the name ‘Duxbury’?
The term comes from the 1992 divorce case of Duxbury v Duxbury. Husband and wife both wanted a clean break and lawyers proposed a lump sum. Mrs. Duxbury’s team produced a spreadsheet of figures that aimed to work out her lifetime income needs and the lump sum that would be required to satisfy them.
What does the calculation involve?
The Duxbury Tables are designed to produce a lump sum for investment. If the figure is correct, it should enable the recipient spouse to receive an income from the invested sum that would be equivalent to regular maintenance payments from a former spouse.
The calculations also make room for some use of the underlying capital by the recipient spouse.
Of course as with any actuarial sum of this kind there is an element of unpredictability. It’s necessary for example to estimate factors such as life expectancy, future capital growth rate and inflation. In theory if a recipient of a Duxbury-influenced lump sum lives longer than assumed in the initial calculation there would be no lump sum left from which to draw an income.
Do I have to use the Duxbury rules?
No. But they are particularly useful when both parties want a clean break and there are appropriate assets of sufficient value to make the lump sum payment.
They can also be used to adjust previously made maintenance order – although not to replace financial provisions previously set up for children.
Can I do the calculation myself?
In theory, yes. But if you are unused to what might be complex financial calculations it would be advisable to seek expert advice. Not just on the figure you might expect by way of a lump sum but also on the question of whether a Duxbury calculation and lump sum is suitable in your particular circumstances.
The idea of a lump sum may be attractive but there will always be an element of uncertainty attached to a Duxbury calculation given the assumptions on life expectancy, future inflation and the return on your investment we have mentioned.
Are the figures set in stone? The ‘Duxbury Paradox’
They are guidelines – but important ones. As in every divorce, courts must have regard to fairness between the parties when reaching any decision on financial matters. And judges may use their discretion when deciding what is and what is not ‘fair’.
One criticism of the Duxbury rules is that, if applied rigidly, a young spouse, divorcing after a short marriage will receive a larger sum than an older spouse who has had a long marriage and perhaps made a greater contribution to marital wealth. Judges will take account of this situation, known as the ‘Duxbury Paradox’.