A Northern Ireland man has behaved “inexcusably badly” towards his former wife, a High Court judge has ruled.
When the couple divorced in 2010, he agreed to pay his wife £105,000 after selling the matrimonial home or the pub they owned. Additionally, he agreed to pay her as £80 per week in child maintenance for their two children and £610 per month in spousal maintenance. These agreements were made binding by the court.
However, he did not sell either property and therefore did not pay his wife the agreed upon lump sum. He also fell behind on his maintenance payments and “accrued other debts and liabilities” since the divorce.
In July 2014, the wife applied for her former spouse to be committed to prison. She claimed he had not paid spousal maintenance since late 2012, that he was “hiding cash takings from the public house” and had no intention of selling either property. She also alleged that, despite having a full-time job, she had lost her house because she had “not received either the £610 per month or the £105,000 lump sum”.
Her ex-husband denied these claims and said he had been unable to raise the money because there had been no offers on the house.
After reviewing the evidence from both parties, Mr Justice O’Hara believed the husband had “done little or nothing to try to achieve the sale of the home or the public house”. The judge said that photographs of the house “illustrated property which nobody is really trying to sell” as it was “cluttered, untidy and most unattractive”. He added that the husband had deliberately set the asking price for the pub much higher than its value, which had put off anyone from buying it.
The judge was sceptical about “whether [the husband] ever intended to honour his obligations” and that, because of his actions, “he has caused his ex-wife and their children to lose their home while he has continued to occupy the former family home and run a business”.
He ruled that the husband was “deliberately in breach” of the 2010 agreement and sentenced him to a six month suspended prison sentence. The judge concluded by reminding the man that “his obligation to pay [his ex-wife] the lump sum of £105,000 remains”, as did his unpaid child and spousal maintenance.
To read the judgment in full, click here.