Financial Settlements: needs v equality
Date posted: 17 September 2020
Aysen Soyer, head of the family department, reports on this financial remedies case which was hugely acrimonious and costly, where the settlement was ultimately determined on the basis of the children’s needs, even though this caused a departure from equality of division of assets. Each of the parties had accrued large debts and made allegations of misconduct against the other (she that he had misled the court about receiving rental income; and he that she had failed to pay interim maintenance provision as had been ordered). The judge was persuaded that in the circumstances it was important to achieve a financial clean break and apportion their debts.
The parties had been in a relationship for 21 years, built a successful business together and had two children aged 13 and 9. They had acquired a house in Miami and 3 flats in London. The Wife continued to run the business and used the proceeds to support herself and the children. The husband ‘lived off air-miles’. The settlement where the Wife got the business, 2 of the flats and a lump sum of £250,000; and the Husband got the Miami property and a flat, was deemed to be a fair division by the court because each was left with a manageable debt after housing needs had been met. This is a useful precedent as it likely applies to middle income / asset scenarios, and reminds family law practitioners that where there are children who are still minors, housing need ‘trumps’ equality. Although obviously unimpressed by the Husband’s ‘destructive litigation conduct’ the judge did not penalise him for this; rather Mr Justice Cohen found a way to ensure that the Wife retained the business so she could continue to support the children without having to rely on the unreliable Husband. He commented that neither party had ended up with much, but that the Husband had brought it on himself.
Financial remedy applications are complex and can be costly. If you think you want to make a claim or need to defend a claim our expert family lawyers can provide you with all the assistance you need at a reasonable cost. For an appointment with Aysen, or If you require advice or assistance with a financial remedy case, contact Mavis on 020 8885 7986.