Divorce and Finances
“Don’t date before divorce”, Mr Justice Mostyn tells women.
In a recent article from the telegraph, it is reported that Mr Justice Mostyn said women who begin relationships soon after their marriage break ups, risk harming their divorce settlement.
In a written ruling, Mr Justice Mostyn said that starting a relationship before divorce makes it difficult for family Judges to decide how much money husbands should give wives following the breakdown of marriages. He said that women risk a lower settlement because Judges might naturally assume they would set up home with their new partners, assuring their financial future.
Mr Justice Mostyn came to this decision following a Court hearing in Swansea.
In this case, the couple concerned were both in their 40’s.
The couple had met in 1999 and lived together with an adopted child.
The Husband had almost no income, but had inherited millions from his wealthy Welsh family, whilst the Wife worked as a journalist.
After three years of marriage, the Husband and Wife set up a consultancy business together and planned to move to France.
However, the marriage did not work out and the parties separated in September 2012.
The Wife subsequently started a relationship with a former army officer, who was in the Signal Regiment, whilst divorce proceedings were pending and an agreement had not been reached in respect of the finances.
The Wife did not inform the Court about her new relationship, however the Husband subsequently found out following investigations made by his legal team.
The fact the Wife had formed a new relationship affected the case when Mr Justice Mostyn noted “she likes him and his children very much, she hopes it continues, they have a lot in common and are happy together”.
He followed by saying, “she says she is not going to live with him, although it is perfectly clear that the relationship is strong”.
He stated “relationships like this are always a significant fly in the ointment in the assessment of need, but one cannot make assumptions, if it is not a full blown cohabitation akin to marriage, that it will grow into that because if it does not, the Wife may be left stranded if the assumption is wrongly made”.
On the other hand he stated, “if one makes a needs assessment on the basis that she is a single woman and she soon cohabits, then the paying party can rightfully feel significantly aggrieved.”
Mr Justice Mostyn confirmed that taking all factors into account the sum of £250,000.00 would be enough to meet the Wife’s needs.
In giving reasons for this decision, Mr Justice Mostyn stated “if the Wife were assuredly single and I could foresee that continuing, I would have my doubts as to whether a net capital position, excluding pension, which will not be accessed for a long time, of just over £250,000.00 would be enough”.
On the other hand, he stated “I cannot ignore the existence of the relationship and so I reach the conclusion that the net figure that I leave the wife with of just over £250,000.00 is sufficient to meet her needs”.
The Judges decision sparked surprise amongst family lawyers, who were unaware how the Judge was so sure that the relationship in this case was not just a rebound following the breakdown of the marriage.
One family lawyer commented that “the Wife in this case said she had no plans to live with her new partner and therefore for a Judge to decide that this is not correct, is a bit of reach”.
She further commented “time will tell whether this signals a new approach by the Court or if it is simply a one off judgement based on the facts of the case. Either way it shows that Judges will take all aspects of personal lives into account when making their decisions.”
Family Law Solicitors Eastbourne, Hailsham and Polegate
If you require further advice in relation to divorce and finances please contact our Family Department for a free 30 minute appointment to discuss your circumstances and receive preliminary advice from one of our experienced Family Law Solicitors.
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