In a recent ruling regarding financial settlement in a divorce case, Mr Justice Mostyn said that new relationships are a “fly in the ointment of assessment of needs”.
Both parties in the case had formed new relationships. The husband cohabited with his new partner who had recently given birth to their child. The wife had chosen not to disclose the fact that she was in a relationship, which had been ongoing for nine months, but investigations by her husband’s legal team revealed the relationship. The wife maintained that she was not going to live with him.
However, Mr Justice Mostyn reasoned, “She says she is not going to live with him, although it is perfectly clear that the relationship is strong. Relationships like this always are a significant fly in the ointment in the assessment of need. One cannot make assumptions, if it is not full-blown cohabitation akin to marriage, that it will grow into that, because if it does not, the wife may be left stranded between Scylla and Charybdis if the assumption is wrongly made. On the other hand, if one makes a needs assessment on the basis that she is a single woman and she soon cohabits, then the paying party ... can rightfully feel significantly aggrieved.”
“If the wife were assuredly single and I could foresee that continuing, I would have my doubts as to whether a net capital position ... of just over £250,000 would be enough. On the other hand, I cannot ignore the existence of the relationship ... and so I reach the conclusion that the net figure that I leave the wife with of just over £250,000 is sufficient to meet her needs.”
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