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High Court judge puts financial dampner on new romances during divorce proceedings

A recent ruling by a High Court judge has sent a clear message to women undergoing divorce proceedings: stay single.

Mr Justice Mostyn warned wives against starting a new relationship before their divorce is finalised as family judges would take into account any new relationship when calculating a fair financial settlement on the assumption that they would, in time, cohabit with their new partner.

The ruling was made during divorce proceedings involving a couple who had an adopted child together, the mother worked as a journalist while the father didn’t work but had inherited millions ensuing a long legal battle over how assets would be split following the breakdown of their marriage.

During the lengthy legal argument over the matrimonial assets, the wife started a new relationship but did not declare this during proceedings however, this was discovered by her husband’s legal team.

The fact that she was in a new relationship resulted in a reduction of the amount of money awarded to her by the judge who commented: “She says she is not going to live with him, although it is perfectly clear that the relationship is strong. Relationships like this always are a significant fly in the ointment in the assessment of need…if one makes a needs assessment on the basis that she is a single woman and she soon cohabits, then the paying party…can rightfully feel significantly aggrieved.”

The ruling may have an impact on future decisions in the family courts relating to how matrimonial assets are divided and will be a contentious issue, particularly when the couple have children as their future financial needs are also taken into consideration.

The dilemma for parting couples, particularly when legal proceedings are prolonged over a number of months, or even years, is whether they are prepared to abstain from getting involved in a new relationship in order to secure a greater financial stake following the breakdown of their marriage.

While couples go through the legal process of dissolving their marriage, life naturally goes on but as the recent decision has made clear, this can prove financially costly.

Linder Myers’ team of family specialists have extensive experience of helping couples reach an amicable conclusion to the end of their marriage to avoid costly, and lengthy, court proceedings. Providing specialist expertise in out of court methods including collaborative law and arbitration, our team of experts will tailor their approach to meet the needs of your specific circumstances.

Find out more about our Family department Read ‘A complete legal guide to divorce and separation’

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