Ancillary Relief

Divorce and Finances

In the recent case of N v F [2011] All ER (D) 96 (Apr) the court had to determine whether pre-marital property should be taken in to account within financial proceedings on divorce.

In this case the parties had been married for 16 years and had two children.  When they married the husband had assets in excess of £2m.  On divorcing, their total assets amounted to in excess of £9m. The pivotal part of this case was how the wealth acquired before marriage should be treated.

The court ruled that the treatment of pre-marital property was discretionary and depended on the specific facts of the case.  The property represented a contribution made to the benefit of the family by one of the spouses.  It should be taken into account but the judge must decide how important it was in the particular case.  The duration of the marriage was also a significant factor.  The longer the marriage the more merit there is to say that the husband had, in effect, agreed to share the property with his spouse.  In this case it was judged to be unreasonable to not exclude any of the husband’s pre-marital wealth as it was the foundation on which the marriage had been built.  It was therefore decided that £1m should be excluded in determining Ancillary Relief.