Newtons Solicitors acted for a Wife in the breakdown of a marriage of some 30 years. The children were adults and living independently. The Husband had retired due to ill health and was drawing down an income of £70,000 per annum from his substantial pension. The Wife had no income and no pension provision. It was decided very early on in the marriage that the Husband’s pension would be sufficient for both in retirement. However, the Husband was then uncooperative in working towards a financial settlement in divorce.
With the breakdown of the marriage, divorce proceedings were commenced, and a request made for exchange of financial information to enable the parties to work towards a financial settlement.
The Husband was uncooperative and, whereas he had previously shared his pension income with the Wife, he reduced this significantly so she could barely make ends meet.
We assisted the Wife by requesting that the Husband pay the Wife reasonable interim maintenance stating that an application would be made to Court if the payments remained at the reduced level.
The Husband consulted Solicitors and he was advised to increase the payments to avoid Court proceedings. He did so to an acceptable level.
Despite having legal representation, the Husband continued to take an unreasonable position, failing to provide disclosure of his financial circumstances. We assisted our client in making an application to Court for a Financial Remedy order.
The Court procedure ensures that the parties each provide full and frank disclosure of their financial circumstances because penalties can be imposed, for example fines or imprisonment, if such disclosure is not made.
The Husband reluctantly complied with court directions and provided details of his finances. A Pension Report was ordered for a Pension Actuary to calculate how the Husband’s pension could be shared to provide the parties with equality of income in retirement.
The Husband resisted the prospect of sharing his pension in full in divorce, arguing that he commenced his contributions to his pension scheme prior to marriage, so only the pension accrued during the marriage should be shared.
Upon receipt of the Pension Report, it was clear that by ringfencing the contributions the Husband had made to his pension prior to marriage, the Wife would not have sufficient income in retirement.
We advised the Wife not to accept the principle of apportionment and pursue a full pension share to provide equality of pension income.
The Husband rejected the Wife’s proposals and then unexpectedly failed to engage fully with the Court procedure and comply with Court Directions. Due to this behaviour, we applied for costs and a costs order was made against him. The case was set down for a Final Hearing.
With only a few weeks to go before the Final Hearing, the Husband settled the financial arrangements, agreeing to provide the Wife with a proper share of his pension. This meant that she could draw down on the pension immediately and will have a good income throughout her retirement. She also received half the value of the marital assets which enabled her to rehouse.
The above is an example of how there can be an imbalance of power on the breakdown of a marriage and the danger of an individual accepting far less than they are entitled to because they are feeling under pressure.
We were able to guide the Wife through Court proceedings, support her, ensure she had sufficient interim maintenance paid to her during the proceedings and a fair share of the Husband’s pension so that she had the same income for the rest of her life.
It is rare for the Court to order costs in family proceedings, but the Husband failed to engage properly in the Court process which caused the Wife’s costs to escalate, and she was reimbursed for this.
It is always important to seek legal advice to ensure the parties achieve fairness on the financial arrangements within Divorce Proceedings. If you are seeking legal support in divorce, please don’t hesitate to contact Newtons Solicitors today.
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