Divorce is always stressful, but family lawyers are trained to stop marriages ending amidst tit-for-tat mud-slinging. In one case that underlined the advantages of level-headed legal advice, a husband who dispensed with it ended up with less than half of the marital assets and a heavy legal costs bill for his trouble.
The former couple, aged in their 60s, had been married for about nine years before their relationship came to an acrimonious end. He had repeatedly failed to comply with court orders requiring him to make full disclosure of his assets and had made numerous serious allegations against his ex-wife, including theft, fraud and money laundering, all of which were rejected by a judge. Rather than seeking assistance from a lawyer, he turned up to the hearing of the case accompanied by a lay representative, whom the judge excluded from the court for misbehaviour.
The marital assets were valued at about £380,000, of which the husband contended that he should receive over 70 per cent. The judge accepted that a departure from equality was justified – but found that it was the wife who should receive the greater share in order to meet her reasonable needs. She was awarded more than 55 per cent of the available pot.
The modest value of the husband’s small business had been left out of account and that somewhat redressed the balance in his favour. Due to his litigation misconduct, however, the wife’s £21,285 legal costs were ordered to be paid out of the husband’s pension.
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