A spouse who quits his job to pay less maintenance does not deserve legal protection. The Federal Court rejected the reduction of maintenance payments under such circumstances. A spouse shall use his or her earning potential in good faith.

In the case before us from the canton of Basel-Stadt, the husband resigned of his own accord from his well-paid job as head of finance, in the hope of paying less maintenance to his wife. The Court considered this deliberate reduction in income to be malicious and apparently abusive. The Court found that the husband’s termination was effected solely in order to have to pay the wife less maintenance. Such conduct excludes any alteration of the maintenance contribution, as the husband acted with intent to cause loss by resigning without authorisation and used the circumstances of his unemployment as a basis for amending the maintenance obligation.

Thus the Court abandons its practice, according to which an adjustment of maintenance payments would be permissible to the new income situation if this can no longer be reversed. The Swiss media have taken up this decision (5A_297/2016 of 2 May 2017), including the NZZ, the Observer and the Tagesanzeiger.