The UK’s most senior family judge, Sir James Munby, has offered a useful reminder of the effect of a new partner on a divorce settlement.
John Hart, a businessman with a £10 million fortune, was appealing a previous judgment that awarded his ex-wife, Karen Hart, a £3.5 million divorce settlement. Mr Hart told the Court of Appeal that the settlement was unfair because his wife had effectively ‘been living as man and wife with somebody [else] for years’.
Mrs Hart’s lawyer accepted that she was in a long-term relationship with another man with whom she lived, but argued that she was entitled to maintain her financial independence. Sir James Munby agreed, ruling that the ‘presence of [Mrs Hart’s] new partner in her life did not diminish her needs’, so the original £3.5 million award stands.
This judgment reaffirms a well-established position. David Young, Senior Partner and Family Law specialist, commented: “This is the latest in a long line of court decisions confirming that in financial remedy proceedings, unsurprisingly, it’s all about the money. If a new partner has no material impact upon the financial circumstances of a party to divorce proceedings, then the impact is generally minimal.”
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