Financial Remedies
December 2021

04 January 2022
A case concerning applications for interim maintenance and cost allowance pursuant to s14 of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 and brought within a Part III claim for financial relief following an overseas divorce
E v B (Interim Maintenance Inaccurate Time Estimate) [2021] EWFC B90

Background: the case concerned the wife’s (“W”) application against the husband (“H”) for interim maintenance of £192,795 pa and a total of £68,000 for a costs allowance though the amount claimed was reduced to maintenance of £3,700pcm/£44,400 pa in addition to payment of nursery fees, health cover, and a costs allowance in the total amount of £49,500 plus VAT up to FDR. The parties married in October 2013 in a country overseas (“Country C”), and separated in June 2020. There was one child of the marriage, K aged two and a half who lives with the mother in the UK. H continued to live in Country C and it was accepted by both parties that during the marriage their “main base” was in Country C.

Following separation W petitioned for divorce in England on 18 June 2020 and an application for financial remedies was made on 25 June 2020, which was stayed by agreement on the basis H was defending the petition for divorce. On 28 September 2020, H acquired Talaq in Country C, a word used to describe an Islamic divorce by way of repudiation, along with a divorce certificate from the local marriage registrar. This had the effect of determining W’s English petition and her financial remedy application which W complained meant H had acted in bad faith.

The parties’ positions regarding W’s claim for financial remedies following the divorce in Country C were as follows; H’s position was that W was entitled to a Dower of approximately £50,000 save that “…this was actually…paid at the outset of the marriage” and W’s position was that “…two gold bars in payment of the dower at the time of the marriage [but] these were sold in May 2017 for our Italian wedding celebration”. On 12 February 2021, W issued her Part III application for financial relief after an overseas divorce. H issued an application for summary return of K to Country C and to made be made a ward of the court which was refused along with a prohibited steps order being made to prevent K’s removal from the jurisdiction.

Judgment: numerous problems that the judiciary must address in cases like these were highlighted including (i) the agreed time estimate was grossly underestimated;(ii) the parties’ witness statements for these applications were too long and too densely detailed(iii)the bundle exceeded 480 pages;(iv) the parties’ expectations in terms of judicial pre-reading were unclear and/ or unreasonable; and(v) the length of oral submissions bore no relation to the agreed time. Recorder Chandler provided the expectation that just as practitioners should not receive unreasonable demands from the judiciary, judges should also not be put in situations as presented in this case.

The judge determined that H could afford to pay an increased rate of maintenance but at the same time W’s evidence regarding her income was unclear and the judge had not been provided with any evidence of a budget of £192,795 pa other than that figure being in W’s form E. Interim maintenance was ordered at £3,000 pcm which was to be paid in addition of nursery fees and health cover.

In respect of the costs allowance application, this was dismissed on the basis that W’s evidence did not mean the requirements that W “cannot reasonably procure legal advice and representation by any other means” as per Currey v Currey (No 2) [2007] 1 FLR 946

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