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Not Enough Money to Go Round after Divorce? Dependants Take Priority

In a large number of divorce cases in which there is insufficient money to go round, the courts will almost always prioritise the needs of dependants, particularly children. Exactly that happened in one case in which a wife who gave up her career to devote herself to childcare was awarded about 90 per cent of the available marital assets.

The wife had given up a successful career as a recruitment consultant in order to take on the role of homemaker. The family depended upon the high earnings of the husband, who was the managing director of a software company. However, by their profligate spending both before and after the separation, the assets available for division between them had been greatly depleted to about £560,000.

A family judge found that the wealth remaining to them was only just sufficient to meet the needs of the wife and the couple’s three children, who were all in private education. Noting the husband’s substantial earning capacity, and that the wife had been out of the job market for a prolonged period, he awarded the wife just under £500,000 and the husband £66,000 of the available pot.

The facts of the case emerged as the husband sought permission to appeal against the judge’s ruling. He was also challenging a six-month suspended jail term imposed by another judge in respect of his failure to pay £77,000 in maintenance to his ex-wife and children. Noting that the husband’s liberty was at stake, the Court of Appeal adjourned the case so that he could arrange legal representation.

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