D v D [2024] EWFC 7612 March 2024

Published: 09/04/2024 15:55


HHJ Booth, sitting as a judge of the High Court: 25:75 division in favour of H following breakdown of second marriage and H’s substantial assets. Court considered W’s needs should be generously interpreted to overcome lack of SJE evidence as to W’s ill health. Needs would include W’s outstanding costs as summarily assessed by the court.


H (64) and W (48) divorced after a ten-year marriage. Both had children from previous relationships, and H had been divorced before. Except for £500k brought into the marriage by W, the family’s assets, totalling £15–16 million, belonged to H. W’s resources had merged with H’s by the time of the trial.

A £3 million trust for H’s disabled son’s care, which had not yet been settled, was a condition of H’s previous divorce. Instead of the trust, H had been paying £15,000 per month towards his son’s care which would need to be considered as part of any settlement.

W faced mental health challenges, including suicide attempts worsened by the proceedings. At one point, W lacked the capacity to litigate, requiring inpatient treatment, leading to an adjournment of the initial final hearing. No expert was sought to report on W’s health, but the court had the benefit of two reports from W’s treating psychiatrist obtained through applications during the proceedings.

Parties’ positions

W requested a lump sum of £3.9 million from H, comprising £1.25 million for housing and associated expenses, and £2.6 million to represent lifetime maintenance at £100,000 per year. The remaining amount would cover her outstanding legal fees of £267,000 and moving/furnishing costs.

H proposed £2.5 million, including £750,000 for housing and the remainder to represent lifetime maintenance at £75,000 per year.


  1. Whilst Juffali v Juffali [2016] EWHC 1684 (Fam) provided helpful guidance, the court did not consider this to be a case of ‘very significant wealth’.
  2. The lack of SJE evidence hampered the court’s ability to assess W’s long-term prognosis, and in turn what, if any, future financial support may be required. The court considered the same could be cured by approaching W’s needs generously consistent with H’s ability to pay.
  3. The court rejected H’s claim that he was approaching retirement. The way H conducted business (angel investor/venture capital) did not reflect a need to retire – H could continue to invest and would do so to maintain his lifestyle. It was accepted W could not work.
  4. With regards maintenance, H did not contest W’s approach but did contest quantum. Assessing W’s maintenance, the court considered Duxbury to be the appropriate starting point, acknowledging difficulties with the calculation, but noting that Duxbury Tables ‘do not supplant the exercise of judicial assessment but provide guidance as to whether that assessment is in the right area’. It was for the court to assess the appropriate sum as the multiplicand.
  5. In respect of W’s outstanding legal fees, H argued the claim for outstanding legal fees was tantamount to costs order, whilst W argued the costs formed part of W’s needs. Rejecting H’s argument and referring to Azarmi-Movafagh v Bassiri-Dezfouli [2021] EWCA Civ 1184 [63], the court undertook an assessment of W’s costs and considered W’s ill-health was a factor which had increased her costs. The court’s assessment was driven, in part, by fairness to the parties; it was not W’s fault she suffered with ill-health, nor was H to be punished for the same. It was a fact of the case which could not be ignored. Accordingly, W’s outstanding costs were to be paid by H assessed at two-thirds of the pleaded costs. See Joe Rainer’s article on costs for further discussion about this issue and potential solutions.


W was awarded £3,277,300 to represent: £1m for housing, £2.1m to represent capitalised maintenance at £100k per annum for life, and £177,300 to meet W’s outstanding costs bill.


The court agreed that the payment would be made in instalments, with interest attached at a rate of 3.75%, matching the rate used by Duxbury. The award would be divided into three stages, with the final payment due within twelve months. No security would be provided. During the interim, W would continue to reside in FMH for four months until the second payment, at which point she would have £2.5 million in capital and should vacate.

H argued that paying the sum would leave him with illiquid assets, but the court disagreed. The court noted that H’s two properties (the FMH and a rental property in Majorca) had substantial equity to cover the award. If he wished to retain these properties, H would need to find the funds elsewhere, including from his investments, which showed promise of profit.

Regarding the £3 million owed to a trust for H’s son, the court deemed it unlikely that such an early demand would arise. Even if it did, H could delay payment until the funds became available.


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