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Family Law

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29 JUL 2005

ANCILLARY RELIEF: Miller v Miller [2005] EWCA Civ 984

(Court of Appeal; Thorpe, Wall LJJ and Black J; 29 July 2005) [2006] 1 FLR 151

The Court of Appeal dismissed a husband's appeal against his wife being awarded the matrimonial home worth 2.3 million pounds and a lump sum of 2.7 million pounds. The judge can go beyond the evidence that the parties choose to put before the court. The language of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, s 25(2)(g) is intended to discourage allegations of conduct in that conduct should only be taken into account if in the court's opinion it would be inequitable to disregard it. This does not mean, however, that conduct not meriting advancement under s 25(2) is irrelevant or inadmissible. The length of the marriage could be given less weight here because it was found that the husband was to blame for the breakdown of the marriage. What a party has given to a marriage and what a party has lost cannot be measured simply on the length of the marriage. Reasonable requirements no longer form the correct approach for dealing with short marriages. The legitimate expectation of living to a higher standard as the ex-wife of the appellant was a fact-dependent conclusion and is not a yardstick measurement. The judge's discretion when making awards is high and the court must be mindful of the words of Lord Hoffman in Piglowska v Piglowski [1999] 2 FLR 763 at 784 regarding the role of the appellate court.

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