by Peter Yates, Partner, Family Law specialist, Poole Townsend
For an application to be made for ancillary relief (a financial settlement on divorce), there has to have been a valid marriage in the first place. On that simple point a woman’s application to file for divorce and claim ancillary relief was recently refused by the court.. The judge had watched the ‘wedding video’ of a ceremony carried out in South Africa and concluded that there was no valid marriage. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision.
Not all foreign wedding ceremonies are recognised as valid marriages in the UK. If you are considering getting married abroad, check the legal position beforehand as the rights of married persons and people whom the law considers to be merely living together are very different.
When a couple divorce and financial arrangements have to be sorted out, there are occasions when the court may decide that assets not owned by the divorcing couple should be taken into account.
In a recent case, a couple with three children divorced after 20 years of marriage. They had enjoyed a high standard of living, which was largely funded by a trust of which the husband was a beneficiary. The trust had been set up by the husband’s father, who is extremely wealthy.
Following the break-up of the marriage, the man’s father claimed that no future gifts would be given to his son and that the prior gifts had been for business purposes.
However, the High Court considered that the gifts and loans to the man were not made for business purposes and the evidence given in that regard had not been full and frank. The wife was awarded a capital sum of £3 million, to purchase a house for herself, and periodical payments totalling £3.25 million, leaving the husband with his trust interests intact and personal assets of £1.6 million.