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Case Law

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Appeal before the Supreme Court concerning the question of whether the Court of Appeal erred in finding that pre-nuptial contracts ought to be given decisive weight, where entered into freely by both parties, in an assessment under section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973; and also whether the Court of Appeal decision amounted to impermissible judicial legislation, in contravention of the decision of the Privy Council in MacLeod v MacLeod (Isle of Man) [2008] UKPC 64. Held (Lady Hale dissenting) that the Court of Appeal was correct to conclude that there were no factors which rendered it unfair to hold the husband to the agreement.


In a case concerning the issues of jurisdiction as between England and Wales and Canada the court held that a Mother had accepted the jurisdiction of the English court. It was held that it was in the best interests of the children that the English court should at present retain jurisdiction in relation to all aspects of parental responsibility. The English hearing in respect of contact would proceed with the issue of jurisdiction being treated as a 'rolling consideration'



Domestic Violence in Family Proceedings.  In this important case the CA reviewed research and sets out  the  factors to be addressed when considering domestic violence and contact.


Domestic Violence in Family Proceedings; In this case the CA reviews research and sets out  the  factors to be addressed when considering domestic violence and contact;


Judgment in ancillary relief proceedings involving a short marriage, one child and significant wealth brought into the marriage by the husband.

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Ancillary Relief


This is an application by Mrs K (to whom I shall refer as the "Wife") for full ancillary relief arising upon the breakdown of her marriage to Mr K (to whom I shall refer as the "Husband"). The marriage took place on the 10th December 1969 and lasted, therefore, in excess of 30 years.


In this case the parties were married in 1990 and separated in July 2002 with the Decree Nisi being pronounced in June 2005 on the grounds of two years separation with consent. The Petitioner is 42 years of age and the Respondent is 41 years of age. There are two minor children aged 12 and 14. The younger child suffers from cerebral palsy but fortunately is well enough to attend the local secondary school.


Application for permission to appeal, with appeal to follow, refusal to allow a mother relocate to Somerset from London in a case involving a shared residence order for the couple’s daughter. Permission granted but appeal dismissed.


The parents had met in 1999 in South Africa and married in 2002 but that soon broke down and they divorced in 2003. The child was born before then and had lived with the mother except for a period of three months when he stayed with the paternal grandparents. In 2005 the father initiated contact and residence proceedings but the parties were, in the words of the guardian, “implacably hostile”. An expert witness report on the child stated that he was being damaged by the battle but the expert opposed a shared residence order but saw no particular benefit in giving the father care: instead he thought independent foster care should be considered. The guardian differed from the witness in arguing for placement with the grandparents and the trial judge agreed.

In this hearing, counsel for the mother argued several points relating, among other issues, to the judge’s failure to give due weight to existing relationships, the contribution of the biological parent or pursuing family therapy. Therefore the judge was plainly wrong. Wall LJ agreed and allowed the appeal for two principal reasons: i) the judge had not “grappled with the fundamental proposition that children have a right to be brought up by their natural parents unless their welfare positively demands the replacement of that right.”; and ii) there was a flaw in his reasoning in that he had accepted the expert witness evidence for independent foster care but placed the child with the grandparents who are patently not independent.  In a postscript Wall LJ comments on the damage caused by such protracted litigation by citing the famous line from Philip Larkin’s “This be the verse”.

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