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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

15 JUN 2010

ANCILLARY RELIEF: H v B

(Family Division; Bodey J; 13 May 2010)

The wife was worth around £58.8 million by the date of the trial but around £28.3 million at the date of separation by virtue of pre-marriage inheritances.  Nonetheless she lived extremely modestly throughout the 21 years of marriage. The family spent around £79,000 a year and lived in a three bedroom semi-detached house now worth about £225,000. The wife and children were now living in a four bedroom house worth about £345,000 and the husband lived in the in matrimonial home.  All four children attended state schools until the second child began to attend a local private high school, at a cost of £4,000 per term. The inheritance had remained the wife's discrete asset throughout, and never intermingled with other assets. The husband sought £18 million but the wife offered about £5 million plus the matrimonial home.

The wife's inheritance was plainly a good reason for departing from equality. The growth in the wife's assets was not a result of active management, but simply market growth. The judge also considered the couples' modest standard of living very relevant and, in that context, the wife's offer of £5 million plus the matrimonial home was very generous. As the offer provided more than husband's ‘needs' in the context of previous spending, £5.3 million in total for the husband was fair.

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