Departure from equality and misconduct

In deciding what order to make in relation to financial settlement, the court has to consider the factors set out in section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. In the recently reported case of LFL v LSL [2017], the court was asked whether an order should be made in respect of the division of the matrimonial assets and whether the division should be a departure from equality, as contended for by both parties. However, not before the court tackled procedural misconduct by individuals concerned with the case.

The couple married in 2007 and through the marriage, they lived in the matrimonial home owned by the wife, with the mortgage having been redeemed by the husband following the sale of his own property in a neighbouring village. Some twelve months into married life, the parties rented the matrimonial home to tenants and they themselves began renting a property in Spain, later purchasing a property there in 2009. The matrimonial assets were further improved in 2011, by a £120,000 inheritance to wife.  By 2014, the marriage had ran into difficulties and wife had sold the matrimonial home. the court also considered a 2016 document signed by the parties purportedly dealing with the matrimonial assets, following their separation, which was considered to have occurred nine years and three months of marriage.

In assessing the appropriate division of assets, the wife also highlighted the husband’s conduct to the court. Firstly, it was said that the husband had failed to comply with rules of court and orders. Secondly, that he has failed to provide adequate disclosure. The first complaint is relevant when it comes to consider the question of legal costs at the case’s conclusion. The second complaint is relevant when the court comes to consider issues regarding the assets of the marriage and whether adverse conclusions ought to be drawn from any such non- disclosure.

The court found that marriage had not been long, but the parties had established themselves financially together. As such, the court felt that the parties’ assets ought to, as far as possible, be divided equally. The husband’s litigation misconduct had caused the costs of the application to increase out of all proportion to the issues in the case. Accordingly, the husband was ordered to pay the wife’s costs of £21,258. The husband retained the house in Spain. The wife retained her existing cash assets, whilst the proceeds of the joint account would be the husband’s. There would be transfers of two pensions to the wife, whilst she also retained her own pension.

The case has also come under further scrutiny as a result of the husband’s instruction of a McKenzie Friend, with the judge hearing the case having been forced to eject the McKenzie Friend from the proceedings, following a serious of repeated outbursts and threats to the judge, wife’s solicitor and wife herself, even after a number of warnings from the presiding judge.


Serving central London, Bedford and the surrounding villages, our lawyers can help you with your family law and divorce matters. If you would like to speak to one of our team to discuss your matrimonial finances, contact us today on 0207 177 9777 or 01234 889777.


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