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(Family Division, Blair J, 7 November 2013)
The husband and wife were married for 9 years and had one son. During the marriage the couple enjoyed a very good standard of living with the generous support of the husband's father. Prior to his death the father's assets were transferred into a Liechtenstein foundation for the benefit of the husband and his children. When the marriage came to an end and the wife sought financial remedy the husband conceded that the assets of the foundation, now totalling just over £4m, fell within the meaning of financial resources within s 25(2)(a) of the MCA 1973. The only other resource of the parties was the former matrimonial home now worth approximately £6m. In total, taking into account a mortgage, costs of sale and tax liabilities the net total assets were just over £6.5m.
The wife submitted that that the husband had undisclosed assets in the region of £1.5m-£2.5m. The husband admitted that he had failed to disclose a few assets, namely, investments and bank accounts holding relatively small sums of money. However, on the evidence there was no sufficient material to find he had failed to disclose further assets.
The wife's claim that the couple lived a sub-oligarch lifestyle during the marriage was rejected although they no doubt had a good standing of living. The wife, who lived with the child of the marriage, and the husband who lived with a son from a previous marriage, had equal housing needs which could be met by a provision of £2.1m.
The unusual feature of the case was that the vast majority of the matrimonial assets emanated from the foundation which was intended to benefit the husband and his children. It would not be fair or proper for the court to fix the wife's award at such a level so as to deplete the resources of the foundation to an extent which deprived the other beneficiaries of future support.
A fair outcome was for the wife to receive maintenance of £55,000 pa and £10,000 pa for the benefit of the child. Given the position of the wife as primary carer for the son and as a carer for her mother together with her modest earning capacity this was not a case in which a deferred clean break would be suitable.
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