17 October 2014, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors
Last month one of the leading family law judges Mr Justice Mostyn in the case of AB v CD stated that when it came to assessing the needs of the parties in financial proceedings within the divorce a new relationship was “a significant fly in the ointment”. The problem arises when one party starts a relationship with a new partner before finalising financial arrangements following divorce.
In this case the wife had made a financial claim following her divorce. Before the financial proceedings had concluded she had started a relationship with another man, a fact that she had not disclosed. The wife alleged that she did not intend to cohabit with her boyfriend but the Judge found that this was a strong relationship notwithstanding that it had only been going for nine months. The Judge had to consider whether the lump sum whether a lump sum of approximately £250,000 was sufficient to meet the needs of the wife. The financial needs of someone who is cohabiting are likely to be less than those of somebody who is living on their own. For example, a new partner would share the costs of providing a home and the housing costs.
The Judge did take into account the wife’s new relationship and accepted that the lump sum was appropriate for her needs although it might not have been sufficient if she had been single to allow her to relocate to be near friends and family.
The court, in deciding the needs of the parties, has taken into account whether one or the other is cohabiting. What is unusual in this case is the length of time the wife and her boyfriend had been in their relationship and the expressed intention of the wife that she did not intend to cohabit.
In our experience we have found that district judges often disregard long term relationships in dividing the assets on divorce where evidence of cohabitation is difficult to obtain.