Financial settlement appeal given the go-ahead in divorce case

A former husband has won the right to appeal the terms of the financial settlement ordered by a family court.

In the case of JM v MM, both the husband and the wife were aged 58 and had been married for 13 years. The wife worked as a primary school learning mentor and the husband was the managing director of a small company, which the parties owned 51/49 per cent in favour of the husband. There were no children of the marriage.

The couple had total assets of £300,000, including the company. The husband’s income, derived from the company, was put at £8,000 a month while the wife earned £1,187 a month.

A district judge ruled that the former matrimonial home should be given to the wife, along with a lump sum payment of £99,600 in exchange for her share of the company. In addition, she was to receive monthly maintenance of £2,250 and a share of her husband’s pension.

The husband appealed the ruling, arguing that the couple’s assets had not been properly assessed.

Sitting in the family court at Bristol, Judge Wildblood QC agreed, declaring: “I regret to say that I consider it obvious that I will have to allow the appeal and hold a rehearing.”

The QC criticised many aspects of the financial settlement ordered by the district judge. It had not properly taken into account the husband’s debts, or the tax liabilities he would incur through the transfer of the wife’s shares, and had also not fully considered whether the husband could raise the money required to pay the wife the required lump sum.

In addition, ruled Judge Wildblood, the district judge had been overconfident in his assertion that the husband’s income would return to the £8,000 per month he had previously enjoyed.

He said the profitability of the husband’s existing business had declined and he had since established an additional business servicing machinery.

During the case, the couple had incurred joint costs of as much a £127,538.

Judge Wildblood described the situation as “…highly regrettable in a case where the costs of the parties are so disproportionate and they both seem locked into conflict.”

He continued: “Pending that re-hearing, this is a case that cries out for mediation. I would strongly recommend to both parties that they either arbitrate on their differences or mediate.”