CC v LC  EWFC 5210 March 2023
Published: 04/07/2023 15:43
HHJ Wildblood KC. Final hearing in a needs case in which the assets available were limited to a three bedroom property, which housed the W and the three minor children of the marriage. In addition, each party held pensions of a similar value.
The H had refused to engage in proceedings, ignoring orders to disclose documents with penal notices attached, not attending the commital hearing or producing any evidence as to his lack of attendance at other hearings. He had not filed any evidence of his mortgage raising capacity, earning capacity, his housing or other capital needs.
The H had been paying maintenance throughout of £1,062 pcm. The W could not shed any light on the H’s financial position and gave evidence that, in her view, his lack of engagement arose out of his his wish not to reveal the extent of his financial resources and his wish to continue to exercise control.
The judge in drawing inferences found it was impossible to give a specific figure for what the H may have undeclared in capital but, he considered the fact that the H was not troubled by the proceedings at all to be a relevant factor.
The W’s family had offered to assist her in taking over the mortgage on the family home, by paying a lump sum towards the liability in addition to a lump sum to the H of c.£64,500, enabling the W to own the FMH in her sole name.
The children of the family each had additional educational needs, such that the Judge considered that they may well be dependent on the parties beyond their majority. The W’s case was premised, in part, on the distress that moving would cause the children. In addition, that any other suitable property would not be significantly cheaper than the current family home. The receipt of global maintenance from the H, in addition to a salary from the W’s part time work as a teacher, would allow her to take over the reduced mortgage on the family home.
There were cost orders made against the H totalling £5,500, which the Judge ordered would be satisfied by the W paying a reduced lump sum.
The judge found that it would be ‘manifestly contrary to the welfare of the children to direct a sale of the former matrimonial home’ and that it was ‘highly likely that the husband has financial resources beyond those that he has chosed to reveal’. On the basis that the judge was unable to put a figure on what the H did have, the judge found that he should assume that the H has enough to meet his needs as to both capital and income when the lump sum proposed by the W was taken into account.
In addition, the judge gave consideration to a deferred charge but did not order one due to the desirability of a capital clean break, that the W would still need at least 70% of the proceeds to rehouse and the inferences that the H had more financial resources than he had disclosed.