Saturday, January 19, 2008

Clear Logic: L v L (Ancillary Relief)

I've been reading the report of L v L (Ancillary Relief) in this month's Family Law, and am impressed by its clear logic in applying the guidance provided by the Court of Appeal in Charman (see this post). Briefly, the facts in L v L were that the assets totalled £6.1 million, of which about £2m had been acquired by the husband prior to the marriage, or inherited by him, although a considerable proportion of that £2m had been used in the acquisition of the former matrimonial home. He had a substantial income and the wife had no earning capacity, due to childcare responsibilities.

Richard Anelay QC, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge, applied the Charman principles as follows:

1. Determine the assets and financial positions of the parties.

2. Apply the equal sharing principle, unless there was good reason to the contrary.

3. Decide whether the result met the (generously interpreted) needs of the parties. If not, needs would dictate a greater share. If needs were less than the figure produced by (2), that would not lead to a reduction.

4. Here, the assets brought in by the husband were a good reason to depart from equality, but this was diluted by the fact that much of them had been used to purchase the former matrimonial home (which was always a matrimonial asset). It was therefore determined that £1m should go to the husband, leaving £5.1m to be shared equally.

5. The wife's needs were found to be £2.5m, and therefore the sum produced by the application of the sharing principle met her needs - if it did not, the needs principle would have prevailed.

Sometimes it all seems so simple!

[As yet no full report of L v L has been published. If I find one, I'll post a link here.]

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