ANCILLARY RELIEF: S v S (Ancillary Relief After Lengthy Separation) [2006] EWHC 2339 (Fam)

22 SEP 2006

(Family Division; Singer J; 22 September 2006)

The ancillary relief hearing took place over 10 years after the divorce. The marriage had lasted for over 18 years. The husband had owned the business before the divorce, but had subsequently developed it without any form of support or contribution from the wife. There had been a very significant disagreement between the experts as to the correct valuation for the husband's company, the husband's valuer suggesting £3.73m, the wife's valuer suggesting £27.2m. The company had been in difficulties in recent years, and flotation or sale would only be possible after considerable further effort by the husband.

The length of the separation and the current state of company made it unfair for the wife to ask for a share in the potential of the husband's company. The husband was ceding to the wife the current tangible wealth and enhancing her pension fund so as to achieve equality, while at the same time assuming the whole of the risk. Although assets were to be valued as at the date of hearing rather than at the date of separation, what happened in the intervening years could be very significant. In this case the value of the husband's shares was more akin to non-matrimonial property, however, the shares had been given weight in the balancing exercise by having regard both to the approximate value of the husband's separation-date holding of shares and to his contribution to the generation of wealth unmatched by the wife.

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