A wealthy husband has failed in his bid to overturn a financial order made following his divorce.
Arbili v Arbili concerned a couple who had married in 2005 after meeting three years earlier. The husband was a French national who enjoyed a successful career in the finance industry. The English wife became a stay-at-home mother following the birth of couple’s child in 2008. However, the relationship eventually broke down , with a decree nisi finally issued in 2012.
During divorce proceedings, the husband was found to have a significant earning and mortgage payment capacity, while the wife, by contrast, was “emotionally fragile” and unlikely to be able to undertake more than part-time work until the couple’s child, ‘A’ began secondary school.
In the family court, His Honour Judge Horowitz QC made a 54-46 per cent division of the couple’s assets in favour of the wife, but “considered that the small departure from equality was justified by need.”
The wife received the former matrimonial home, as well as a share of the proceeds from the sale of a property in France and a lump sum of £140,000.
The husband was unhappy with the award and applied to have it set aside on the basis of information he had obtained from the wife’s computer in uncertain circumstances. He made allegations about the contents of these documents but was eventually required to surrender them to his wife’s solicitors. He sought an adjournment in the ongoing proceedings in order to present evidence of what he claimed to have found in them to the court, but he was refused permission to do so.
The husband appealed this decision, also challenging the unequal division of matrimonial assets. But Lady Justice Macur was not convinced by his arguments.
Sitting at the Court of Appeal, she briskly declared:
“There is nothing in these grounds of appeal that amounts to anything other than a complaint that the judge did not find in favour of the husband’s case.”
“Furthermore,” she added, “there is no viable support for any argument to the effect that the judicial evaluation of the evidence or the subsequent exercise of discretion was perverse.”
The judge’s decision to address the wife’s needs with an unequal division of the assets had been fair and he had been entitled to do so, Her Ladyship ruled.
In addition, Judge Horowitz’s refusal of the husband’s application had been justified on the basis of the way the husband had obtained the documents on which he had based his claim. Lady Justice Macur noted:
“…no satisfactory explanation was given in writing or in answer to direct judicial questions as to the means deployed by or on behalf of the husband to obtain the information.”
In addition, said her Ladyship, the man’s counsel had “tended to suggest that the husband had interpreted the documents, rather than attempt to reveal their actual content.” In reaching her conclusions, the Judge referred to the guidance set out the much discussed case of Imerman v Tchenguiz.
Read the judgement here.