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83 year-old jailed for contempt of court in contentious divorce

An 83 year-old property developer has been jailed for contempt of court after obstructing a financial settlement with his ex-wife.

During divorce proceedings in 2015, the man had been ordered to pay her a total of £3.5 million, from an estimated fortune of £9.4 million, and also to hand over his controlling shares in a West Midlands property firm. The wife received the shares, thereby becoming the owner of the company, The Guardian reports.

But the husband subsequently, said Stephen Wildblood QC, had “done his utmost to frustrate her ability to run it efficiently and effectively” because he “bitterly” resented the award. His behaviour is reported to have included delaying the transfer, then removing all management records from the company premises.

He was later ordered, on two separate occasions, to provide her with business information but failed to do so. Judge Wildblood told the elderly developer:

“…so serious are these acts of contempt that only a sentence of imprisonment is justified. Having reflected on the contempt that you have committed I have concluded that a financial penalty would be wholly inadequate. Orders of the court and the rule of law must be observed.”

His wife had, the Judge continued, made “every effort” to avoid having him committed to prison. He had been motivated by resentment and had demonstrated no remorse for disobeying the orders the QC declared.

“This is a man who has received repeated warnings already that he must comply with court orders and he has chosen, repeatedly, not to do so.”

Judge Wildblood added:

“A prison sentence will have a very marked effect on him. [He] is now aged 83 and nobody wants to see a man of that age going to prison unless it is genuinely necessary.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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