Wife awarded divorce settlement that reflects lavish lifestyle

October 6, 2016By BPS Family LawDivorce Settlements

A wife has been granted a divorce settlement that is fair to her husband but reflects her lavish lifestyle during the marriage.

The case involved a couple who had been married for 12 years. The husband was from Saudi Arabia and the wife was an American. Their matrimonial home had been in England, and the wife and daughter continued to live there.

The husband, who was terminally ill, had been extremely wealthy before the marriage and had paid for them to live a very lavish lifestyle. The wife had a London flat and a US property in her name. She sought £62.8m to buy a London property as her main home, additional funds to buy an English holiday home and to retain her US home, and capitalised maintenance of £127m.

The issue was the extent to which the exorbitant standard of living enjoyed throughout the marriage should be reflected in the court’s assessment of the wife’s future needs.

The court held that her needs had to be assessed by reference, among other things, to the marital standard of living prior to the breakdown of the marriage. However, it was also important to be fair to the husband.

This meant that that the wife should be awarded enough to provide a comfortable, even lavish, lifestyle, but not necessarily at the same exorbitant level that she had enjoyed during the marriage.

This meant she had no realistic entitlement to an annual income that replicated the marital standard of living. It was not appropriate to include either capital or income provision for a second home in the UK. She could not expect to continue to travel by private jet, or for the husband to pay for teams of staff at her various homes.

The court ordered that she should have a housing fund of £18m to buy a London property. She could meet her reasonable needs with a net annual budget of £2.5m, which would reduce by 33% after 10 years and by a further 25% after a further 10 years.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.

Financial rights of married and unmarried parents after separation

September 29, 2016By BPS Family LawBlog, Divorce Settlements

Caroline Swain, Partner, Matrimonial and Family Law explains how there’s still a marked difference in the financial rights of married and unmarried parents after a separation.

Unmarried co-habiting couples are the fastest growing family type in the UK. With this family unit on the rise, it’s surprising the awareness of unmarried parent’s rights isn’t higher.

Most assume that they are in a ‘common law marriage’, and if they were to split, would share the same rights and responsibilities as married couples. Perhaps surprisingly, unmarried parents don’t have the same rights as married parents when seeking financial support for children after separation.

Married or not, separation and divorce can be a difficult time, with parents wanting to protect their children as much as possible. I’ve helped hundreds of married people through divorces and advised plenty of unmarried parents on their rights regarding separation.

Married or unmarried – key points to consider

Parental rights

For unmarried couples going through a separation, there’s one very important point to consider – parental rights.
Mothers automatically have parental responsibility for their children. Fathers only have this right if they were married to the mother when the child was born – if they weren’t then being the natural father is not enough to give parental rights.

There are actions that can be taken to acquire these rights, but if this wasn’t done before the break-up it can be difficult.

Legal obligation

It’s also important to note that married couples have a legal obligation to each other, and as a result, a divorce (to break that legal contract) can be a complex way to divide assets. For those who are unmarried, due to the lack of legal obligation, it can in some cases be easier to separate financial affairs. However, where children are involved, this can make it more difficult to assess the financial needs for children.

Financial rights

An ideal situation would be that both parents come to an informal agreement regarding child maintenance. Married or not, in most cases parents are required to pay child support. The amount payable is worked out by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).

If you are married and get divorced there will (eventually) be an agreement as to how assets are divided. This will be decided through the courts. The parent with custody can ask the other parent to provide funds for a family home – and for married couples this money is given outright.

For those who are unmarried there will be no divorce to divide assets, so any payments will be decided through the CMS. However, this can be detrimental to an unmarried parent who has sole care for children with inadequate resources to do so.

There is a way around this. Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 states that an unmarried parent (the ‘parent with care’) can claim additional financial support from ex-partners to benefit the children. This is currently the only route available and not one which is well known.

However, if you are unmarried then any capital given to provide a family home is effectively a loan and not given outright. It’s lent to the parent with custody while the children are under 18. Once the children are legally adults the house must be sold and the other parent given their money back.

I’ve helped many parents claim the money they need and are entitled to this way. Not many people know about Schedule 1 claims and instructing a solicitor to act on your behalf can take away some of the pressure and worry at this difficult time.

It’s vital to understand all the options available to you. At BPS Family Law we pride ourselves on offering a compassionate and caring service putting the holistic situation for any family first. If you’re looking for a family lawyer, then you can get in touch with Caroline at [email protected] or by telephone on 0161 926 1430.

Homemaker wife awarded shares worth £69m in divorce settlement

June 24, 2016By BPS Family LawDivorce Settlements

A woman who devoted her life to her family while her husband concentrated on developing his business has been awarded £69m in a divorce settlement.

The case involved a couple who began living together in 2002. They married in 2004 and the wife became a homemaker and a full-time mother to their two children.

At the time they met, the husband was the chief executive of an online fashion retailer and owned company shares worth £1.2m. The wife had no significant wealth.

The husband continued to develop his company, which began to grow. He eventually sold some of his shares for £73m, which he and the wife invested in property and other assets while using some for the family to enjoy a higher standard of living.

In 2013, the husband and wife separated. Their combined assets totalled £219.5m, of which £140.8m represented the value of the husband’s remaining shares. He considered that the shares should be left out of settlement calculations because they were a non-matrimonial asset as he had owned them long before he met his wife.

The wife argued that the current value of the husband’s shares was a result of growth made possible by him being free to develop the company while she was the homemaker. They should therefore be shared as a matrimonial asset.

The court found in her favour. It held that she had been an excellent homemaker and mother, and the parties had contributed equally to the welfare of the family.

In fairness to her, the husband’s shares could not be left out of account altogether. They had been part of the family economy.

The fair solution was to give half to the husband as personal, non-matrimonial property and treat the other half as matrimonial property to be evenly shared, thereby giving the wife a quarter of their value and an overall award of £69.5m.

Please contact us if you would like more information

about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.

Divorce settlements can be heard again in court if your partner lied about their finances

June 24, 2016By BPS Family LawDivorce Settlements

Do you believe that your ex-husband or ex-wife did not disclose their true financial position during your divorce proceedings? Our outstanding legal team has a wealth of experience in this area of law.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court redefined the law where one party to a marriage or a civil partnership has failed to make full and frank disclosure of their assets following the judgements in the high profile cases of Gohil and Sharland.

Sally Harrison QC and Samantha Hillas from St John’s Buildings, both of whom have regularly formed part of our strong legal team at BPS Law for a number of years, successfully represented Varsha Gohil in her appeal to the Supreme Court, highlighting their strength as advocates in divorce proceedings.

If you believe that you are in similar situation and your ex-spouse is living a lifestyle which is not representative of his or her disclosed income either to you or to the Court at the time of your separation then we have a formidable legal team who will assist you.

The Judgement both in this case and the case of Mrs Sharland strengthens the Court’s ability to enforce the duty of spouses to be fully transparent about their assets, income, business interest and overall financial position at the time of separation.

The law extends not only to divorce proceedings but to spouses who are have entered into pre-nuptial agreements and separation agreements.

The need to tell your spouse your precise financially position has never been greater. The ability to re-open a settlement if one person has failed to do so has been highlighted extensively by these recent judgements.

Also, there is no time limit. So no matter how long ago you were divorced if you feel that your spouse failed to tell you everything at that time then we can advise you as to your rights and the options available to you.

For free initial advice

contact our matrimonial team without delay on 0161 834 2623