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(Family Division, Theis J, 4 May 2012)
The father was a high earning professional footballer, based in the UK, who had a child, now 4 years old, with the mother, who following the end of the relationship returned to her home country in Africa with the child.
The mother applied under Sch 1 to the Children Act 1989 for all forms of financial relief including maintenance, lump sum and secure provision. The father's annual income was £2.25m and in addition he had capital in the region of £5.25m. The mother's income, including maintenance provided by the father, was a little over £13,000 pa.
During the proceedings the mother applied for an A v A order for the father to fund or contribute to her legal costs, both historical and ongoing. The mother, to date, had costs in excess of £180,000 excluding VAT while the father's were approximately £90,000. The father had already contributed an agreed sum of £35,000 towards the mother's costs.
The father accepted that the court had jurisdiction to make the type of order applied for by the mother but proposed that the court should not make a further order due to the mother's conduct during proceedings and complained of the amount of hours that had been spent by the mother's solicitors.
The authorities were clear that the court had a wide discretion in making such orders for costs. Taking into account all the circumstances of the case it was clear that the court should exercise its discretion to make an A v A order. Whilst some criticism could be made of the mother's conduct of proceedings it was not unusual in the context of these applications. The position taken by the father had increased costs in the issue of proceedings in Africa and he had continued to make no proposals other than for maintenance.