Divorce on the farm

Farming businesses are often a family affair that span generations; fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, may all have a share in the land and the business. These complex ownerships can pose issues in several areas but nowhere more so than in the breakdown of a relationship or divorce.

David Milburn, our expert in family farm divorce cases at our Harrogate office joins us with his top tips for farmers facing a divorce.

What makes farming divorce cases complicated?

There is no particular difference in how a farm is dealt with by law in a divorce. The difficulty is that they are often a lot more complicated due to several key issues that can affect how the matrimonial assets are worked out and divided:

  • Liquidity: often assets held within a farm are tied up and not easily realisable.
  • Farming families can be capital rich but income poor.
  • Inherited assets/generational farms for example, if the farm has been handed down through the generations and is to be preserved for the next.
  • Any impact upon third parties, for example, parents, sisters and brothers who may live on or be involved in the ownership or running of the farm.
  • A reliance upon farm subsidies that affect the revenue of the farm.
  • The existence of family farm trusts and/or complex ownership structures.
  • Tax, such as capital gains tax and/or inheritance tax.

With such complicated assets and structures, it is crucial to instruct a solicitor that is a specialist in dealing with farming divorces and who has a good understanding of agriculture and how farms work.

What factors are considered in the divorce?

One of the biggest questions running through these types of cases is “what the parties’ needs are and how can they be met?”

The starting point is to define the assets and then look at how to share those assets built up during the marriage.  The Courts ultimately have a wide discretion in order to achieve fairness. Fair, however, does not necessarily mean equal and farming cases do merit special consideration including:

Inherited assets are often treated differently and are not subject to the sharing principle in the same way.

A farm owned by the wider family, with siblings and/or parents, will require careful thought as Courts are reluctant to damage the livelihoods of other third parties.

If there are enough liquid assets to go around, the Court can depart from equality in order to protect any inherited element.

How to protect your farm

If you are not married, consider a prenup agreement to evidence what is intended from a financial point of view if the marriage ends. This will save time, stress and money in the future. It is also possible to put assets in trust for future generations.

Expert in farming divorce cases. 

Based in Harrogate, I am an expert in farming divorce cases and have acted in a number of high-value cases in North Yorkshire and beyond with a successful track record for clients, both litigated and negotiated.

I understand the unique difficulties farming cases bring and work in partnership with third parties including land and agricultural valuers’ and our expert in-house accountancy team to get the right team and strategy in place.

You contact me by email here.

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Author: David Milburn

The end of the blame game in divorce is one step closer

I noted a press release this afternoon, released by the Minister of Justice, that promised the “biggest shake-up of divorce laws in 50 years aimed at reducing conflict and supporting children and families.”

And I, for one, agree. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill will revolutionise the way in which divorcing couples will end their marriage.

No longer will they need to lay blame either through allegations of bad behaviour or adultery and instead this will be replaced with a simple statement of irretrievable breakdown.

The truly original feature is that couples may opt to make a joint statement of irretrievable breakdown if they choose. Reflecting the fact that when many marriages end, both parties have reached the same conclusion.

It will also take away the prospects of unsightly defended divorce cases where parties are subjected to airing the intimate aspects of their marriage in the Court.

It is to be hoped that starting the divorce process on a less contentious footing will help the parties to resolve other issues that may arise whether they relate to future arrangements for their children or sorting out financial settlements.

I think that the end of the blame game in divorce is definitely one step closer.

Julian Hawkhead, Senior Partner at Stowe Family Law

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Author: Julian Hawkhead

Dating after divorce: 5 dating terms you need to know in 2019

Dating after divorce can be brutal, particularly if your marriage / long relationship lasted for a couple of decades. If this is the case, the last time you dated, back in 1999, there was no dating apps, no ghosting and certainly no bread crumbing.

Instead, it was a world of speed dating, matchmaking and a ‘little black book’. And, the most popular dating term was the straight forward “He’s Just Not That into You” popularised in an episode of ‘Sex in the City’ in the ‘00s.

So, if you find yourself “back out there again” (something that strikes fear in anyone at any age) after a relationship breakdown, we’ve rounded up some of the latest dating terms you need to know to survive.

First up, dating apps. According to Glamour Magazine, the best dating apps in 2019 are Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Happn, Wingman, Pickable, Badoo and Coffee Meet Bagel. The article also declares “one app is SO 2018” so you can find out more and select your choices of digital dating here.

Next stop, dating terms. Well, there are plenty out there, here are our favourite (?) five.


Things have ended or, maybe they haven’t? It was not clear. Either way, they have continued to like all your social posts, spy on your Instagram stories etc to make sure you know that they are still there. Not quite in your life but not entirely removed.

Bread crumbing

Bread crumbing basically means stringing someone along. Think, suggesting a date but never with any actual plans or commenting on your latest Insta but screening your calls. To be blunt, they are not forgetful. This is tactical. They are not interested in you but having you around boosts their ego.


If your first experience of zombies was the film ‘24 days later’ with the now Thomas Shelby from Peaky Blinders in lead, zombies are not the first thing that pops to mind when dating. Today, however, it is a sort of non-committed ghosting. So just as you realise you may have ghosted, they return from the dead (like a zombie) and get back in touch.


You have dated for months and things seem to be going well but you realise that you have never been introduced to anyone: family, friends, colleagues. In fact, you only see each other when the ‘pocket-er’ wants to or has nothing else planned.  It’s like they have just stuffed you in their pocket to keep you hidden.


You are dating someone but get the feeling they are dating others.  They want to see you, but it is clear that you are their plan B or C whilst they keep looking for a better option. They do not want to burn the relationship bridge, just yet.

Dating after divorce 

Wow, welcome to the complicated and slightly terrifying modern world of dating. It certainly is a minefield and its digitalisation brings both benefits and challenges.

So, if you are getting ready to date again after divorce, take your time, go with your instinct and remember sometimes, they are just not that into you and that’s fine.

Good luck out there.

Disclaimer: I left ghosting out of the list as it has been around for a while, even I at 43 years old have heard of it before.

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Author: Stowe Family Law

Wife cannot make claim against property after previously failing to pursue claim

I have written here previously (for example here) that financial remedy orders are intended to be final, and that therefore a party is not usually entitled to have a ‘second bite of the cherry’. Once a claim against property has been determined, no further claim can be made against that property. In the recent case Chaudhri (Shafi) v Shafi & Another, however, the situation was slightly different: here, the wife had declined to take that first bite. She did not actually pursue a first claim against the property. However, as we shall see, the end result was still the same.

The case, heard by Mr Justice Mostyn in the High Court in April, concerned the wife’s application for a freezing injunction against a property in London (the injunction had been made earlier by Mr Justice Cobb, and Mr Justice Mostyn was reconsidering it). The injunction was sought in relation to the enforcement of a lump sum order requiring the husband to pay to the wife £686,000. The husband had failed to comply with the order, and the wife sought the freezing injunction to prevent the property being sold or mortgaged, thereby protecting the wife’s claim against the property, which she no doubt hoped would be sold, so that she could recover all or part of the lump sum.

The complication was that the property was held in the name of a third party. The wife claimed, however, that she and the husband had funded its purchase, and were the true (’beneficial’) owners. The wife had made a claim against the property within the financial remedy proceedings. However, she stated that she “did not pursue it due to stress and ill-health.”

Whilst it was true that the wife had suffered stress and ill-health around the time of the final financial remedies hearing, Mr Justice Mostyn found that she was not incapacitated, and was in a position to give instructions to her solicitor. A lawyer for the third party had written to her solicitor stating that her claim against the property had no substance, and asking whether the wife would oppose an application by the third party to have the claim struck out. The wife’s solicitor replied, confirming that she would not resist the strike-out application.

In addition to this, when the matter later went before the court the judge specifically recorded that the wife did not pursue a claim against the property.

Turning to the wife’s freezing injunction application, it was suggested by counsel for the third party that it would be an abuse for the wife now to be allowed to pursue a claim in relation to the property. Mr Justice Mostyn agreed, citing the following words of Lord Bingham in a 2002 House of Lords case:

“The underlying public interest is … that there should be finality in litigation and that a party should not be twice vexed in the same matter … The bringing of a claim or the raising of a defence in later proceedings may, without more, amount to abuse if the court is satisfied (the onus being on the party alleging abuse) that the claim or defence should have been raised in the earlier proceedings if it was to be raised at all.”

Mr Justice Mostyn said that not once, but twice, had the wife failed to pursue her claim in relation to the property. In his judgment, it would be a manifest abuse were a claim now to be allowed to be mounted and protected by a freezing injunction. Accordingly, the injunction was discharged.

(It should be noted that the wife also had the protection of an earlier worldwide freezing order, presumably freezing any property held by the husband, anywhere in the world. Sadly, it can be very difficult to enforce against assets held abroad, which was no doubt why the wife was eager to enforce against an asset in this country.)

You can read the full judgment here.

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Author: John Bolch

Divorce, who gets the house?

Can I stay in our family home if we split up?

This is such a common question that our lawyers are asked and quite rightly so. The family home is a special place and, in many cases, is the main family asset so it is little wonder that when a family breaks down, the property will be central to the divorce.

So we decided to revisit a blog from 2018 by Sarah Barr- Young, Managing Partner of Stowe Family Law in Ilkley which does a great job of explaining what options are available for separating couples and the family home.

“What are the options for the family home in a divorce settlement?

In a divorce, all assets held jointly and in sole names need to be identified and their values agreed in order for the negotiations to commence to bring the parties financial relationship to an end.  During this process, a value for the family home will be agreed for negotiation purposes.

There are several options for the home. For instance: one spouse buys the other one out and keeps the house, the house is sold and the proceeds divided, or one parent remains in the property and the other party may defer receiving the balance for their share. This can be until the property is sold or transferred to another party upon a specific future event, such as once the children move out or the partner remarries.

It is usually clear early on whether one party can afford to retain the family home post-divorce or if it needs to be sold. Retaining the family home is important when children are involved to give them stability as they adjust to the new dynamic, but this is not always financially possible.

What if I cannot afford to run the family home by myself?

If you are unable to meet all the outgoings on your income, you could seek assistance from your spouse as an interim measure if they have the money available to help and your own outgoings are reasonable. You will need to check that your income includes everything that you are entitled to e.g. child maintenance/tax credits etc. If your spouse is unwilling to agree, it is worth contacting the mortgage provider to see if they can offer any assistance by way of a mortgage holiday as a short-term solution.

My name is not on the property deeds – do I still have any rights?

If the property is the family home then the court views it as a joint asset. However, if the family home is in the sole name of your spouse you must act quickly and enter a Notice of Home Rights against the property with the Land Registry. This should help prevent your spouse from trying to sell the property without your knowledge or consent.

Are my rights affected if I move out before the house is sold?

No. If the atmosphere at home has become unbearable and you need to move out it will not affect your entitlement to a claim on the property. It is advisable to collect all your personal belongings, including paperwork, before you go in order to prevent any issues in recovering them at a later date.

Do you need divorce advice?

There are many myths surrounding divorce and what happens to the assets of a marriage so I always recommend obtaining legal advice from a solicitor so that you can get advice tailored to your own situation. This will enable you to make informed decisions about you and your family’s future.”

If you would like advice on divorce and who keep the house, you can make an enquiry here or call our Client Care Team at the number below.

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Author: Sarah Barr-Young

Stowe guests: Why do I need a divorce coach?

Today for Stowe guests, we are joined by Rebecca Spittles, a Divorce Coach from Bristol.

Rebecca offers one-to-one coaching sessions and workshops that focus on the emotional and practical issues surrounding separation and divorce.

She joins us to explain how a divorce coach can help you to stay focused and make clear and well-informed decision before, during and after a divorce.

“Why do you need a Divorce Coach?

Whether you have left, you want to leave or have been left, a Divorce Coach will sit beside you steering you through the myriad of information and emotions that will come up during and after your divorce process.

Unlike a psychologist or counsellor who will analyse and give advice, a coach is there to motivate, guide and inspire. A coach will focus on the outcome, and then break that down into sections (maybe weeks or days) so that you can make clear and well-informed decisions with the help of your solicitor.

A Coach is there for YOU as a sounding board and empty space for you to fill with the EMOTION of your Divorce.

But I have fabulous support from my friends and family.

Yes, and that is amazing, you can tightly wrap them around you. However, your coach will be there for you to rant at, to be angry at, to look for solutions for you, to help you find the light at the end of what can be a very long tunnel.

The most important thing is that your coach is unbiased, non-judgmental and wants the best outcome but isn’t your mum, sister or best friend who have their own personal feelings regarding your situation. A coach allows you to manage your own feelings and find strategies to deal with the emotions of the people closest to you.

What about the cost? I am already paying for a solicitor.

It’s no secret that it costs to get divorced, but by working with a coach you can speed up the process, save the frustration and unnecessary emotional turmoil and, in turn, save money. You can fully utilise your solicitor to do their job: to make your actual divorce as straight-forward as possible, sort out the financial element and the child contact element. You won’t feel the need to lean on them for emotional support – which they are not trained to give.

The benefits of a divorce and separation online course

This course is designed for anyone who has been through or is going through separation and divorce and is run in a group setting via Facebook.

It includes interactive Zoom calls once a week as well as my regular presence on the page – not forgetting the chance to ‘meet’ people in the same place as you.

Small 5 minute ‘Game Changer’ challenges will be posted daily as well as inspirational stories and techniques to assist you at this truly challenging time of your life.

My next course starts on 1st July for further details go to my website or call 07427 173839 or by email: rebecca@rebeccaspittles.com

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Author: Stowe Family Law

Stowe guests: Tax and divorce by Sofia Thomas Limited

In this instalment of Stowe guests, we catch-up again with Sofia Thomas from Sofia Thomas Limited.

A specialist tax consulting services to law firms, family offices and high net worth individuals, Sofia has worked in financial service for over a decade and has previously consulted for Google.

She joins us on the blog today to share her answers to some of the most common question she receives from clients regarding divorce and tax.

In my last guest blog for Stowe Family Law I shared some top tax tips to consider when getting divorced. In this piece I thought it might be helpful to pull together a list of the most common questions client’s ask me.

Do I need to consider tax on my divorce?

 The big money questions! I have pulled together a high-level flow chart for Stowe blog readers to provide some guidance on this question.  Clearly, it’s not possible to cover all eventualities, however, I have considered the most common issues. In situations where there may be some tax implications I’ve included some questions which I hope will assist you in raising this with your solicitor or tax advisor.

Download flow chart PDF

Will my settlement be taxable in the UK?

 No, divorce settlements are not taxable in the UK. This is the same for deferred settlements. If a deferred settlement is paid late and there is interest due on the late payment, the interest only may be taxable. For example if you divorce in 2020 and per the consent order your £200,000 settlement will paid to you by December 2021. There may be a clause in the consent order, that if not received by this date there will be interest due on the late payment at 3%.

Assuming you finally receive the settlement by June 2022 you would received £200,000 plus £3,000 in late payment interest. The £3,000 interest only will be assessed to tax.

What if my settlement is tied to the sale of an investment property we both own?

 If you are the joint owner of a property which is going to be sold after the divorce and your settlement proceeds will be funded from this sale then there will be a potential tax liability. You will be taxed on your percentage of the gain. The capital gains tax rates for property in the UK are 18% (if you earn under £46,000) and 28% (if you earn over £46,000 or if the value of the gain would take your income to over £46,000).

Each individual in the UK has a capital gains tax annual allowance of £12,000 (for 2018-19) which reduces any taxable gain.

By way of simplified example if you sold a shared property for £500,000, if you owned 50% of the property you would need to report the portion of the gain which relates to your ownership of the property.

For example, see the simplified capital gains tax calculation below;


Simple Capital Gains Tax Pro Forma
Sale Price £250,000
Purchase Price (£125,000)
Less all costs
– selling costs
– purchase costs
– improvements to the property
Total Gain £120,000
Less Annual Allowance (£12,000)
Taxable Gain £108,000
Capital Gains Tax Payable at 28% £ 30,240


This gain must be reported on a tax return and paid to HMRC. If your settlement is funded by the sale of a joint property after the divorce one option available to you, is to seek advice on the potential capital gains tax liability and then request an indemnity against this in the consent order.

We are selling our main home will there be capital gains tax to pay?

In the UK there is a relief called Principal Private Residence relief (PPR), this relief allows you sell your main home without paying tax on the gain if you meet certain conditions.  The main conditions are

  • You have lived in the property as your main home for the whole time you have owned it

There is an addition to this relief which allows the relief to continue for an additional 18 months after the you have left the home. Note that this 18-month extension may be reduced to 9 months from April 2020.

In simple terms if you have both lived in your house as your main home for the whole time you have owned it then principal private residence relief should be available to exempt the total gain, so that no tax is payable.  If one spouse has moved out of the martial home but it is sold within 18 months from the date they moved out, again no tax should be payable.

If you have not lived in the home the whole time you have owned it or have multiple properties you should seek further advise. Additionally, if you have been absent from the home for over 18 months there are some reliefs which may be available to reduce any taxable gain but you should seek advice on this.

You can find out more about Sofia Thomas Limited by visiting the website here.

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Author: Stowe Family Law

Husband succeeds in appeal against financial order after process found to be unfair

As a family lawyer who spent most of his time dealing with cases involving clients of ‘ordinary’ means, it is nice occasionally to come across the report of a financial remedies case in which the parties do not belong to the ‘mega rich’ class (of course reported cases are more likely to involve the mega rich, as they can better afford the cost of taking their cases to the higher courts, where the judgment is more likely to be reported). The Court of Appeal decision in Crowther v Crowther, which was handed down in February 2017 but has only recently been reported on the Bailii website, was such a case.

The case concerned an appeal by the husband against an order that the wife retain the former matrimonial home, the only capital asset of the marriage, which had been purchased entirely from an inheritance that the wife had received from the estate(s) of her late parents. The case is not just of interest for what was decided, it also acts as a further demonstration of the difficulties that can arise as a result of legal aid not usually being available in financial remedies cases.

I don’t need to spend much time setting out the facts of the case. The parties were married for about ten years, before they separated. The property was purchased about half way through that period. At the time of the final financial remedies hearing it was valued at about £200,000, and was mortgage free.

After the separation the wife continued to live in the property, which has four bedrooms, along with her adult daughter from a previous relationship, and that daughter’s partner. The husband was living in his parent’s home.

A complicating factor was that both the husband and the wife were found to be vulnerable, in terms of their psychological and mental health. In fact, the wife’s mental condition led to concerns as to whether she had capacity to conduct the litigation. The husband, meanwhile, appeared to be physically disabled, although medical experts found very little physical explanation for his apparent disability, and that there was a very significant element of ‘functional overlay’.

The husband was fully represented at the hearing, and the wife was a litigant in person. The husband argued that the matrimonial home be sold, that the net proceeds be divided equally, and that that would provide each party with sufficient to rehouse themselves. The wife argued that the husband was not entitled to any claim on the house because it represented her inheritance from her parents, and that if he wanted to live independently, the husband could easily fund it by either obtaining council accommodation, or through housing benefit. He did not therefore need any capital from the house.

The hearing was conducted by His Honour Judge Tolson QC. He of course was put in the difficult position of trying to ensure fairness between one party who was represented, and one party who was not. To achieve this he undertook questioning of the husband, effectively on behalf of the wife. The questioning was extensive, and as a result of it Judge Tolson formed the opinion that the husband was unlikely to be able to live independently. This had not been part of the wife’s case. Nevertheless, it was a primary reason for him concluding that receiving a half share of the property would not actually meet the husband’s needs. Accordingly, he ordered that the wife should have the property.

The husband appealed, to the Court of Appeal. Giving the leading judgment Lord Justice McFarlane found that the process adopted by Judge Tolson had been unfair to the husband. The husband should have been given advance warning that the issue of whether he was able to live independently would be raised, so that he could take steps to present his case in order to meet it. He had been given no such warning, and that determined the appeal, irrespective of any issue of whether Judge Tolson had wrongly put the issue of contribution (i.e. the wife funding the property out of her inheritance) above the issue of the parties’ needs.

Accordingly, the husband’s appeal was allowed, and the case was sent back to the family court to be heard again. Lord Justice McFarlane expressed the wish that the wife should be represented, the case in his view being sufficiently complex to justify exceptional legal aid funding.

As I said earlier, the case is a demonstration of the difficulties that can arise as a result of legal aid not usually being available in financial remedies cases. It also shows that that can lead to unfairness not just to the party who is unable to obtain legal representation, but also to the other party.

The full judgment can be read here.

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Author: John Bolch

A public and bitter divorce battle, there is another way – Part two

In the second instalment of “A public and bitter divorce battle, there is another way” by Senior Partner, Julian Hawkhead he looks at how arbitration is another useful tool to resolving financial issues in divorce away from the public eye.

Another route to resolving financial issues is arbitration. Arbitration, in short, is a privately funded process where your nominated independent arbitrator decides the outcome of your case by making a binding award which through the rules of arbitration is turned into a Court order.

Like private FDRs, you can choose your arbitrator or if you cannot agree who it should be, an independent body can select the arbitrator for you. The hearing will be conducted away from the Court in private offices. It is entirely confidential, and you are not constrained by the delays of the Court system or the constraints of time. It is, however, a voluntary process. Both parties must agree to enter it.

Arbitration, at times, does arouse suspicion of bias particularly concerning the politics and tactical thought processes of the relationship between the lawyer and the arbitrator chosen. This is less of a feature of private FDRs, where the views are in any event, not binding. However, as an arbitration award is a final binding decision, the fear of bias can loom larger.

The attraction for some litigants is that the “lottery of litigation” creates a level playing field and you both share in the good or bad experiences. It does, however, reflect a naive attitude towards the private FDR and arbitration processes and shows little faith in the professionalism of highly experienced lawyers. An arbitrator who showed bias would soon lose any credibility. Judges are just as capable of misunderstanding issues, having natural human biases for different circumstances or types of behaviour.

Of course, private FDR hearings and arbitration both attract additional fees. However, if you trade that cost against the saving of time (which inevitably leads to more costs), the quality of experience and decision making, then surely it is a price worth paying?

We are dedicated to finding solutions for our clients and advise on all the options available to our clients to resolve their issues in the quickest, most cost-effective and least acrimonious way.  Read our section on out-of-court settlement options here.

With over 50 members of Resolution in our team and a high number of specialist accredited lawyers, we can help you find the best way to achieve your goals.

For advice on arbitration and other out of court settlements you can contact me here or our Client Care Team below.

You can read part one of this article here. 

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Author: Julian Hawkhead

The perils of being too eager to recover what you believe you are due

All family lawyers will be familiar with the phenomenon of the client who has a strong sense of what they are ‘due’ or entitled to when it comes to financial remedies on divorce. Now, there is nothing intrinsically wrong about believing you are entitled to something, whether it be money or property, but a really strong sense of entitlement can sometimes cloud the judgment. Sometimes, for example, that party can be rather too eager to recover what they believe they are due, and end up incurring costs in a forlorn pursuit of their ‘entitlement’.

I’m not saying that the applicants in the two quite different recent cases to which I am about to refer suffered from this phenomenon, but certainly the cases act as a useful reminder of the perils of being too eager to recover what you believe you are due.

Both cases are recent judgments of Mr Justice Mostyn.

The first case is Purvis v Purvis, which concerned a rather unusual application by the husband. He was apparently convinced that the wife may have been hiding assets in the USA, which obviously should have been taken into account in any divorce settlement.

The facts of the case given in the judgment are rather ‘bare bones’, as the judgment did not require full details. Essentially, the parties began a relationship in this country in 1992, in 2001 they purchased a property in Florida, and they were married in January 2004. In July 2004 they acquired a cafeteria business also, I assume, in Florida, to which they moved at some point in that year. In December 2005 the marriage broke down and the husband returned to this country. Divorce proceedings were eventually commenced in this country in 2009, although they have yet to be finalised.

The husband made a financial remedies claim within the divorce proceedings. Obviously, both parties were required to make full disclosure of their means. However, the husband was not satisfied that the wife had provided sufficient explanation as to what had happened to the property and business in Florida. He claimed that the house is worth $250,000 and the business was profitable, with a turnover of $750,000. The wife was in sole control of both. However, the house was foreclosed in November 2008 and the company ceased to be registered in 2013.

The husband therefore applied for an order that a letter of request be issued to the authorities of the United States of America for the wife to be examined in Florida and to produce documentation to disclose the true nature of her financial resources. Mr Justice Mostyn refused the application, which he considered to be nothing more than a “fishing expedition”. The husband had no evidence as to the existence of any of the residue of the assets, he was merely “fishing” for that evidence.

The second case is Gladwell v Gladwell. This concerned an application by a husband to set aside a writ of control issued by the wife to recover a debt that was not yet due (a writ of control authorises a court enforcement officer to seize goods of a debtor in order to recover the debt).

The relevant facts of the case were that the court had made a consent order, setting out the financial settlement agreed by the parties. A term of the order was that the husband should pay to the wife the sum of £5,889 in lieu of her claims against his pension, from his share of the proceeds of sale of the parties’ timeshares in Malta.

Clearly, the payment was not due until the timeshares were sold. However, despite this, the wife issued the writ to recover the payment before the sale took place. On the 28th of March 2019 enforcement officers attended at the home of the husband. The enforcement officers’ costs had increased the debt to £8,304.72. That sum was paid by the husband on his credit cards.

The husband then applied to have the writ set aside. Without going into detail, Mr Justice Mostyn found that the writ was unlawful, and that the monies had been wrongly taken from the husband. He therefore set aside the writ and ordered that the monies be returned to the husband.

In both of these cases the applications had been misguided, quite possibly because of the applicants being too eager to recover what they believed they were entitled to. The result, however, was that the applicants had failed, and could well have incurred considerable costs for their efforts. The moral is: think hard (and preferably take the best available advice) before you act!

You can read the full report of Purvis v Purvis here, and of Gladwell v Gladwell here. As far as the latter is concerned, a word of warning: in family cases the party who was originally described as the ‘applicant’ can subsequently become the ‘respondent’, and vice versa, if the original respondent later makes an application of their own. Unsurprisingly, this can sometimes lead to a little confusion, so please bear it in mind if you read the Gladwell judgment.

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Author: John Bolch