A lengthy post but hopefully it might help someone.
In 2011 my partner divorced her then husband. She received a joint lives settlement with no cohabitation clause and no pension sharing arrangement. She received PPs of £30K for herself and £7K for their 3 year old child both index linked.
I met her in 2017 and moved in late 2018. In Jan 2019 her ex husband informed her he was stopping PPs on the basis he couldn't afford it, she had a business based on holiday lets and I had moved in. This was challenged and the legal process began. Disclosure was laughable, he omitted bank accounts, 3 pensions, a £5m plus windfall from the sale of his family business, a golden goodbye, etc etc We approached two solicitors. Both said he can't just stop and suggested Clean Breaks of c£500K and £250K. mediation failed as he refused to offer anything. A private FDR suggested a bracket of £200-300K and he would not move above £140K. The final hearing was postponed due to covid and rescheduled 9 months later with his new team. Even that was interrupted when H's counsel took ill on day 2. The hearing concluded in December 2019 and he won. We applied on 5 grounds for appeal and have just been turned down. Our team describe the judgement as appalling and unsound, but there it is. Legal fees are c£140K and we are having to sell part of the property and therefore business to pay debts.
A word on the hearing itself. It was a joke. The judge - a part time DDJ - had clearly made up her mind before it even started. Her concluding judgement was almost a carbon copy of her opening remarks. She did not take not of a single bit of my evidence. Contrariwise gave evidence and lied - demonstrably so. eg he was turned down for his yurts business yet in the bundle he claimed an income, he had lavished £50K plus on laundry facilities and he even had a website stating the opening date and taking bookings. In another example he took £21K from his daughters savings account and never returned it, saying he needed the money, yet he had £278K in his account on that day. So Judge took as entirely credible his evidence that despite expenditure in his retirement of £1.5m per annum, and declared anuual budget of £113K poor mr x had an income of only £21K. He was going to have to sell his rented 5 bedroom home in Fulham to pay off his 30 year old debts from a family trust so this was going to reduce his income to £2k for the ground rent of his 11 properties on Sark. The £5.6m windfall from the family business had been spent on a holiday letting business that was now worth only £2.5m and was unlikely to be able to make a profit at all before 2025. Meanwhile my partners 4 letting rooms are able to generate £25K per annum and if I worked harder I could make even more! You could not make it up.
So Lessons for those of you setting off down this road
If you are seeking Justice, do not assume the court is the place to find it
Do whatever you can to mediate and settle out of court even if that means settling for less
Disclosure is a farce and despite the warnings the courts are not remotely interested in enforcing contempt proceedings
Big money will always win as they will outspend you and waste your resources until you can no longer fight
No one will know your case as well as you. Your team will not have the time and can make mistakes. If you are confident self represent
The judge on the day is all important and a total lottery. Judge was an imbecile, could not record figures accurately, was inconsistent (eg his figures were all after tax and our gross), was illogical and quite frankly disinterested. Seriously I have to question whether she was bought.
If you do go to court invent an illness like he did, court sympathy. And play the beleaguered soul, show confusion over pages of bundles,
Beware of dirty tricks. In a case which was dealing with his millions, his ultra sharp and mendacious counsel brought up the £500 my late wife left me in her pension. She even referred to my wife as Mrs x for effect. My late wife of 32 years died a horrible death due to cancer and the counsels behaviour was despicable and uncalled for
Lawyers will lie and mislead. The bigger fee they charge the more they will lie.
Lawyers will cover their own backsides when they get it wrong
Cynical and angry maybe, but having spent my working life trying to uphold the freedoms of this country I am quite frankly appalled at the lottery of and quality within the judicial system. I hope others have had rather better experiences. The problem I have now is that a system that is so flawed is now having to determine a children's issue. And what faith do I have that it will get that right/ Absolutely none.
I have no help or advice to offer,I'm moving very slowly through a divorce just now, but just to say i'm very sorry that you've been put through this process and hope that brighter days are ahead and that the person dealing with this case is in a minority. Best of luck for the future
I am very sorry to hear about the issues you have encountered. I feel your pain, I have been taken to court by my wife & her solicitor who is also a DJJ has behaved in a very unethical way & obstructed the court orders.
I would be interested too know if your case was dealt with in a court in south east England?.....it may even be the same DJJ, who knows, feel free to send me a private message
Thanks, I am not sure how I send you a private message. I really hope you do not have the one we experienced. She worked from the Central Family Court in London. I am so incensed by her incompetence, sorry she would say her discretion, that I will probably write to the Lord Chancellor, the Justice Secretary, and my local MP to point out her appalling judgement and attempt to have her removed from ever sitting again. I shall probably be in contempt of court but if that lazy, inaccurate, inconsistent and illogical effort is the product of the court it deserves to be held in contempt.
To check your messages, click log in, then a box titled profile should appear, then click my messages, I have sent you a message. The whole system and law relating to financial settlements in divorce needs urgently updating. How can it be fair to let a DJJ also practise as a solicitor in the same court in which they preside, its a clear conflict of interest. The divorce law in England unfairly favours the financially weaker party. everyone getting married should be made aware that once you sign on the dotted line you are potentially giving up everything you have ever worked for, probably for many years before ever meeting your wife or husband. Including your pension & inheritance etc....completely wrong in my view.