JN v GN [2023] EWFC 24421 November 2023

Published: 10/01/2024 09:27


DJ Hatvany. The parties were married for 23 years, having separated in 2013. W was 60 and H was 62. They had one adult child. W continued to reside in the family home following separation. H was cohabiting with a new partner who lived in social housing with a secured tenancy. Both parties had modest incomes and pension provision.

H acted in person and had been a difficult litigant throughout (even when represented). W had incurred legal fees of c.£69,000 and the judge was asked to make a costs order.

The main asset was the family home with equity of c.£224,500. The parties agreed that it should be transferred into W’s sole name but disagreed about whether H should also discharge the mortgage of £47,000. Despite agreement regarding the transfer, the judge felt the need to ensure this outcome was fair given H would be left with nothing and nowhere to live were his relationship to end.

There were no other assets to speak of and W had a significant liability for legal fees (c.£19,000).

In early 2020, H had received £468,000 by way of inheritance from his father. Despite this being non matrimonial, it would have enabled him to rehouse and clear the mortgage on the family home. At trial, H’s position was that he had spent every penny and admitted to spending this on his new partner and her family, holidays, cars and a hot tub. H accepted his expenditure had been wanton and reckless (c.£16,500 per month) and the judge accepted that nothing remained, despite H’s lack of disclosure.

In 2016, H cashed in an endowment policy (£28,000) and the parties had intended to use this to clear the mortgage, but this did not transpire. This was the basis for W’s argument that he should now discharge this. In 2019, he cashed in a pension (£59,000). Again, he said that he had spent every penny. These were plainly matrimonial assets of which W saw no benefit.


  • The family home was to be transferred into W’s sole name. This significant departure from equality was justified in light of H’s spending of his inheritance, the endowment policy and pension.
  • H was not required to pay any money towards clearing the mortgage as there were simply not the funds to facilitate this.
  • Otherwise, there was to be a clean break.


H was to pay £10,000 towards W’s costs in instalments of £350 pcm as opposed to a lump sum, owing to his lack of resources. The judge considered that W’s costs of £19,000 were excessive, even in the context of H’s litigation conduct.

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