Posted on 11.8.15 by Kerry Lees-Russell
Last week, a divorcing wife who achieved a ‘final’ financial settlement order giving her approximately £157,800 (70% of the sale proceeds) of the family home, received a surprise notification when the Court ruled that the husband could challenge the order.
She now faces losing about £44,000 after an incident involving a wooden spoon and the couple’s daughter just before the financial settlement order was to be granted.
The husband and wife began divorce proceedings in 2013 after a relationship breakdown. In November 2014, a court ordered that the wife was to receive the lion’s share of the house sale proceeds on the basis that her financial needs were greater than that of the husband’s. It was deemed that the mother, who can’t be named for legal reasons, looked after their two children approximately 70% of the time, thus we was to receive 70% of the profits from the house sale.
Approximately 6 weeks after the financial settlement order was granted by the Court, there was an incident involving the wife and their teenage daughter, which resulted in the wife being prosecuted for a criminal offence. The full details of the offence have not been released, however, it has been reported that the incident involved the wife, the teenager and a wooden spoon.
According to the press, the wife’s Solicitors are reporting that there was no physical contact with the child, however, the wife was required to appear before the Magistrates Court with both children giving evidence against their mother. The wife ultimately received a conditional discharge, but this very incident has now opened the door for the husband to appeal the financial settlement order.
Change to the Financial Settlement Order
The wooden spoon incident has brought about a change in circumstances which now enables the husband to appeal the original order. Judge Holman sitting in the High Court has reportedly stated:
“The upshot of all that was very tragic indeed and both children have reacted against the mother. They have in fact begun to live 100% of the time with their father”.
Given the fact that the children are now living with their father, the Judge indicated that there is a possibility that the husband could successfully appeal the financial settlement order and gain a greater than 30% share of the house sale proceeds.
Generally, the Family Court are keen to avoid opening up final settlement orders as it is in the interest of both parties to be some closure and an end to what can be costly or lengthy litigation. Nevertheless, if there has been a significant circumstance-changing event, the court does have the power to consider the whole financial settlement order again in the interests of fairness.
Consider your options & take expert legal advice
It is not a straightforward procedure to seek to re-open a ‘final’ settlement order and a decision to do so should be carefully considered having obtained expert legal advice. As in the case mentioned above, the Judge estimated that it could cost the couple a further £10,000 if the matter went to a full appeal hearing.
Expert advice is therefore required to determine what the appealing party’s prospects of success are likely to be and what costs may be involved. If you would like to speak to one of our specialist family solicitors, please give us a call on 0343 507 5151 (landline number) or alternatively fill in a contact form and we will ring you back.