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  • The parties married in 2004, separated in 2015 and the decree absolute of divorce was granted in 2019. The three children lived with the mother and had only indirect contact with the father. DJ Graham Keating found that their housing needs were being met, albeit imperfectly, by living in the former matrimonial home (FMH). He considered whether the income disparities and needs justified spousal maintenance. Although the mother had not been transparent about her resources, and the parties' litigation history strongly suggested that a clean break and the avoidance of subsequent litigation was very desirable, the mother would be responsible for the care of the children, for housing, feeding, schooling and clothing them. The district judge decided to grant the mother a 48.9% share of the father's 1995 pension, made no order for spousal maintenance, and left the beneficial interest of two properties with the mother and one with the father. He ordered the sale of the FMH, but this would not take effect provided that the mother secured the father's release from the mortgage, and paid him all costs awards from these proceedings, plus interest. If that were done within two years, the FMH need not be sold and the father would transfer his legal and beneficial interest in it to her. The father sought his costs of the FDR, and relied on a schedule of costs totalling £8,468. The district judge ordered that the mother should pay £7,388. The father also claimed for costs for the remainder of the proceedings. The district judge, quoting Mostyn J in OG v AG [2020] EWFC 52 ("if, once the financial landscape is clear, you do not openly negotiate reasonably, then you will likely suffer a penalty in costs") found that each of the factors in FPR 28.3(7)(a), (b), (d) and (e) justified an award of costs in favour of the father, the mother's evidence having been "elusive and evasive" as to her income. The mother was ordered to pay £9,000 towards the father's costs since the FDR. Judgment, 04/07/2021, free
  • Two barristers had separated in January 2019. The husband wished an immediate order for sale of the family home to be made, to enable him to enforce his entitlement to £250,000 plus statutory interest. The wife hoped for a finding that the entire order approving a previous agreement should be set aside, with the effect of putting the case back to square one with all arguments re-opened. HHJ Edward Hess reached a clear view that the facts of this case did not pass the "setting aside" test from Walkden v Walkden [2010] 1 FLR 174: "given the importance attached to finality in settlements of this nature, the circumstances must be truly exceptional before a capital settlement can be re-opened". After considering the fairness of the parties' suggested scenarios, he decided in the end that making an order for sale, but delaying its implementation, would be the scenario most likely to give both parties some prospect of a reasonable financial future. Judgment, 18/03/2021, 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
  • An appeal against a decision in financial remedy proceedings. Leave to appeal had been granted on limited grounds: whether the husband had made contributions to the mortgage, and whether the right approach had been taken to the valuation of the wife's pension. The parties married in 2008 and separated in 2011, and had been in a relationship since 1988. HHJ Richard Robinson found that the husband was unable to show any bank statements which did not align with the judge's findings, and hence decided that there was no merit in the first ground of appeal. As to the second ground, he found that there were difficulties with the judgment. The judge had been aware of the husband's health issues but dismissed them as irrelevant to an assessment of his future needs. The judge appeared to have been "led into error by an over-emphasis on the non-matrimonial accrual of part of the pension and of contributions over needs". The correct approach would be to analyse the parties’ comparative income and needs in retirement, and thus the extent to which the wife’s pension should be apportioned. A complete rehearing would be excessive; a directions hearing would be held to decide the next steps. Judgment, 15/06/2020, free
  • The financial consequences of the breakdown of a marriage that had lasted for 22 years, with three children, all still in education. The couple had renovated a large country home at great expense shortly before the divorce. The applicant husband suggested for himself a housing fund of £3m and an income fund of £2.3m. The wife suggested figures of £1.8m and £400,000. Cohen J reminded himself of the factors to be taken into account, including that the applicant must not be treated less generously on account of his sex, especially when he would be playing an equal part in the children's care, and made a total award of £2.85 million. The house would be transferred to the wife. Judgment, 08/06/2020, free

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