The High Court has granted a man permission to appeal his divorce settlement, after he argued that it would leave his former wife with more assets.
The case of C v SR concerned a settlement ordered by a district judge following the end of a 16 year marriage. The judge awarded the couple’s former home, valued at £975,000, to the wife – albeit subject to an existing mortgage. The husband was also ordered to pay a set amount of child support as well as ‘joint lives maintenance’ – a long term award which continues until the death or remarriage of one of the parties (or a further court order).
The husband claimed that awarding outright ownership of the house, the couple’s most valuable asset, to the wife was unfair, and placed her in a better permission than him. He sought permission to appeal, saying an outright sale or a ‘Mesher Order’ would be more appropriate. The latter are orders which allow one party in a former marriage to stay in a home for a period of time – often until children leave home – while the other party retains an interest in the property.
The husband also argued against the joint lives award to his former wife, preferring a limited time ‘term order’.
Mr Justice Moylan considered the requirements of the Family Procedure Rules 2010. These require that a potential appeal must have a real prospect of success or present some other compelling reason to be heard.
He concluded the husband “has a real prospect of establishing that the [existing financial settlement orders], in particular in combination, are outside the bracket of reasonable orders in that they do not reach a balanced outcome.”
The husband had, he declared, a good chance of convincing a court of appeal that the original judge had relied too heavily on uncertain estimates of future income:
“…when the court is making orders based on estimates of future income, there needs to be, in my judgment, a reasonable degree of caution exercised to make sure that the order which is made is (a) affordable, and (b) does not result in an imbalance or an undue imbalance between the parties’ respective future financial positions.”