Sunday Review - Valentine's Day Edition

Inspired by that old romantic Charon QC, I thought I would do a special edition of my (very) occasional Sunday Review for that most important occasion for all (future) family lawyers, Valentine's Day.

The Observer enters the spirit with a lover's guide to the legal effects of the alternative answers to the question that will hopefully surely be posed by many today: "Will you marry me?" Excellent - you don't want to reply to that question without being fully informed.

Love was clearly in the air for Duncan Pell when he ran off with Maryna Borysenko, a Ukrainian half his age. Whether his wife Sara was upset to see him go is not clear, but she is certainly upset that she can't divorce him in this country, a decision that could cost her a share of his £1.2 million pension.

A love child is the subject of this important report in the News of the World today, telling us how the husband of Z-list 'celebrity' Kerry Katona (I had to Google her to find out who she was) hid from two child support investigators who called at their home to quiz him about his income. Apparently, for the last 18 months hubby has been 'avoiding' paying maintenance for his 4 year-old son by a previous relationship.

Finally, some sensible advice for women who answered the aforementioned question in the affirmative. The Rev Angus MacLeay, vicar of St Nicholas Church, Sevenoaks, Kent has, quite rightly, advised wives in his congregation to “submit to their husbands in everything”. Something tells me that this could be good news for divorce lawyers in the Sevenoaks area...


  1. Talking of pensions, my current partner had his ancillary relief/divorce finalised by court order in 1998 and there was no mention of pension splitting in it. He is a teacher and retired last July. Can his ex-wife now go to a solicitor to try and claim some of his pension even though is already receiving it.

  2. Pension sharing orders only became available where the divorce petition was filed on or after the 1st December 2000, so no need to worry about them. Otherwise, the court order should dismiss all financial/property claims by either party against the other, or say when they will be dismissed.

  3. A less misleading headline would be: "Difference between English and French law means wife is not entitled to a share of husband's £1.2m pension."

    There is no 'loophole' and she can't have been 'robbed' of it, because under French law, it was never hers.

  4. The French seem to think it would be fair, and they have lived in France almost as long as they lived in the UK. That's where their home is, and that's where they were living when the marriage broke down. The fact that they married in the UK is irrelvant; I'm sure you frequently deal with people who married in Bali and in the Carribean, but they aren't expected to file for divorce there.

  5. I don't know what the outcome will be in the French courts, but I take it from your reply that you do not think it would be unfair for the wife to receive nothing in respect of the husband's pension. Doesn't sound very fair to me.

  6. She might have got everything else?


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