Family Law Hub

Marital Assets

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  • The wife made an application to implement the terms of a consent order. The husband cross-applied, to have the order implemented in a different manner. The premise of the consent order had been that two valuable properties in London and New York constituted matrimonial property, and their value would be aggregated with a third property, the overall value being divided equally between the parties. In Mostyn J's judgment, the true facts on which he had made the consent order had not been known by either the parties or the court at the time the order was made, and had the true facts been known (regarding the trusts involved, which were not capable of being collapsed or dissolved) he would have made a materially different order. The order was set aside. Judgment, 09/09/2020, free
  • An appeal by the husband against the final order made by a district judge in an application for financial remedies. The parties had married in 2013 and separated in 2018, and in the course of the marriage the wife had received a large settlement from the NHS in compensation for clinical negligence. The husband argued that the final order was unfair because it departed from equality in giving 99% of the assets to the wife, that the district judge had gone too far in making allowances for the wife being a litigant in person, that the district judge's assessment of the party's respective needs was flawed, and that the district judge should have taken into account the wife's post-separation spending. HHJ Vincent decided that the appeal should be allowed. The district judge's decision to admit at the last minute an extract from counsel’s advice in respect of the clinical negligence claim had been wrong. The damages award formed part of the matrimonial assets. The district judge had fallen into error in her assessment of the parties’ respective needs, and in concluding that the wife’s needs outweighed the consideration of the husband’s needs, leading her to make an award which was unfair. HHJ Vincent's substituted assessment differed from the district judge's in one regard: a property in Spain would be sold and the proceeds split fifty-fifty. Judgment, 02/07/2020, free
  • A judgment following the final hearing in financial remedy proceedings. The couple were married in 2017, and separated the same year according to the husband, but in 2018 according to the wife. They continued to live separately under the same roof. In the view of District Judge John Smart, the husband seemed to have spent substantially on enlarging the matrimonial home to accommodate the wife and her son, while the wife made no substantial contribution to the welfare of the family. The district judge was not convinced that the wife's indebtedness should be cleared by the husband. He did not find that the husband or his solicitors had exacerbated her Complex PTSD, and he rejected other allegations of misconduct. Although the family home was to be treated as matrimonial property, their contributions were not equal, and a significant departure from equal sharing was required in fairness. A split of 20% of the net assets would be right. The husband would have to raise the sum of £110,000 within a year or the family home would have to be sold. There would not be a pension sharing order; the parties had not sought such an order and almost all of the pension accrual was pre-marital. The husband would pay interim maintenance/periodical payments at £12,000 per year to the wife for the first year and £9,000 per year for the second year. She should leave the former matrimonial home within a month of the first payment. Judgment, 19/06/2020, free
  • The couple used to run a shipping business together, but were now in the midst of a bitter divorce. The wife had obtained a freezing order to prevent the disposal or charging of four vessels operated within that business. Her case was that she and the husband were entitled to beneficial interests in shares in the companies which owned the vessels. The freezing order had been discharged on appeal, and then reinstated pending this appeal by the wife. The appeal was allowed by Males, Moylan and Phillips LJJ and the freezing order would continue, but on the terms set out in the schedule to the judgment, which would allow one of the vessels to be sold, or for vessels to be charged as security for a loan. If nothing had been done, there was a risk that the vessels would have had to be sold for no more than scrap value, which would not have been in the wife's interests. Judgment, 18/06/2020, free
  • The wife's application for financial remedy orders following the breakdown of the marriage to the husband. Both came from wealthy families. They had married in 2010, after signing a pre-nuptial document regarding the "Separation de Biens". A religious ceremony took place in April and a legal ceremony in July. The parties had lived in London since 2015. Cohen J did not accord weight to the pre-nuptial agreement: it had not been the subject of discussion between the parties, it had been presented to the wife on the day before the wedding, she had had no chance to consider its contents, she was unfamiliar with the concept of choosing a marital regime, and she had no understanding of the implications of the agreement. Cohen J went on to deem 40% of the matrimonial home to be a matrimonial asset. When this was aggregated with the $8m found to have been received by the husband during the marriage for his work within the family business, it amounted to a matrimonial acquest of £7.9m, and a half share would thus provide the wife with just under £4m. The home would be transferred to the wife. Orders for periodical payments and child periodical payments were also made. Finally, Cohen J noted the parties had spent a "deeply regrettable" and "disastrously high" amount of money on costs, and that there had been repeated breaches of the Statement on the Efficient Conduct of Financial Remedy Hearings in the High Court. He suggested that the sanctions available to the court at paragraph 18 of the Statement should not be overlooked. Judgment, 06/06/2020, free

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