January 3, 2023
The case of ND v LD (Financial Remedy: Needs)  EWFC B15 concluded on 3rd March 2022. This case was a set of financial remedy proceedings arising out of the breakdown of the marriage of the parties and considered whether spousal maintenance was appropriate and the appropriate percentage for a pension share.
During the marriage, the husband took the role of the stay at home father and the wife was the breadwinner. The marriage lasted for 29 years and the parties had three adult daughters. The wife continued to support the husband following the end of the marriage and gradually reduced the level of this support.
Both parties had liabilities exceeding their modest savings. The wife had a pension of £141,299 and the husband had a pension of £9,809. The husband sought 40% of the wife’s net income, a percentage of her death in service benefit and a pension attachment order of 100% of the wife’s pension. The wife’s position was that spousal maintenance was not appropriate and that the husband should be awarded 35% of her pension.
Throughout proceedings, there was concern for the husband’s mental wellbeing. However, he received a positive capacity assessment and was deemed capable of taking part in the proceedings. The husband sent a large volume of emails to the court of a nature that caused serious concern for his wellbeing and both the police and an ambulance were called. A ground rules hearing took place and a familiarisation visit was arranged for the husband. The husband continued to send concerning emails and at his familiarisation visit he brought a knife to the court.
It was directed that the husband was to attend the hearing remotely and other interesting special measures were implemented. The husband was given permission to sit away from his camera when the wife was giving evidence, the wife was requested to turn her camera off when the husband was addressing the court, the court and counsel were to refer to the husband as “Sir” upon his request and the husband was allowed to wear a mask over his eyes during cross examination.
The Judge considered the starting point to be equality as in the case of White v White. Given that the parties had been mainly financially independent for a while, the husband had modest savings, the wife was unable to meet her monthly expenses and the husband may have had potential future earning capacity, a spousal maintenance order was deemed not to be appropriate. As this was a long marriage where the husband prioritised the wife’s career and her earning potential over his own, he had not had the same opportunity to build up a pension pot and therefore there was a need for him to have a share of the wife’s. A fair and equal pension share was considered 50% and this was the only order made.
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