VT v LT  EWFC 256 (B)18 December 2023
Published: 28/01/2024 14:07
DJ Hatvany. A welcome rare report of a low asset case heard by a DJ. How could the court meet the needs of two households from limited assets?
The marriage lasted 18 years, and the parties separated in mid-March 2020. There are three children of the marriage (one of which lives independently).
W earned £29,000 pa, £16,000 of which was universal credit. H owned an IT company which gave him an income of around £44,500 pa (inclusive of dividends). He ran the business from the family home and could not afford to move to new premises due to his business being heavily hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Judge was faced with how to create two households, each with three bedrooms, out of limited assets. Indeed, H needed further space to run his business otherwise his income would be extinguished. Fairness required a departure from equality in order to meet W’s needs as her earning capacity was much lower than H’s. However, the only capital asset was the FMH which has equity of around £118,000. H had a mortgage capacity of £84,113 and W’s was minimal.
DJ Hatvany ordered that H pay £55,000 in two tranches; £20,000 at the date of the hearing, and a further £35,000 within 24 months, if he wished to keep the FMH. If he could not, it would need to be sold. This would enable W to explore shared ownership options.