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Complicating the cost of divorce

Member: Nifa

Courts are finding it difficult to make judgments in the cases of estranged wives who become involved in new relationships while still fighting over money with their husbands.  According to Mr Justice Mostyn, such relationships were “a significant fly in the ointment” for family court judges who are asked to decide how much money husbands should give their wives when the marriage breaks down.

The judge said women risked losing their share of the assets because judges might naturally assume they would set up home with their new partners, assuring their financial future.  Mr Justice Mostyn, a former QC who represented Sir Paul McCartney during his divorce case with Heather Mills, explained the dilemma in a written ruling following a family court hearing in Swansea. 

The couple concerned met in 1999 and lived together with an adopted child. The father had almost no income, but had inherited millions from his "distinguished" and wealthy Welsh family, while the mother worked hard at her job as a journalist.  After three years, the husband and wife set up a consultancy together and had planned to move to France but the marriage started to break up in September 2012. 

During lengthy legal wrangles over the matrimonial money, during which time the wife tried to ferret out every piece of information about her husband’s finances, she started a relationship with a another man but neglected to tell the court about him.  However, the liaison was “revealed by virtue of investigations” made by the husband’s legal team. 

The legal teams on both sides of a divorce usually employ forensic accountants to find out exactly what assets exist and where they are but they also conduct ‘lifestyle’ investigations, so finding out about another partner is not unusual.  The advantage of using forensic investigators is that they are expert, impartial and extremely thorough, so no stone will be left unturned in finding out about the truth of the situation.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 26 September 2014

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