The Court of Appeal caused widespread concern last week after dismissing a husband’s appeal against a Judgment which was handed down last July. The Judgment ruled that the £550,000 estate of the family should be given, almost in its entirety to the wife. Major concerns are being expressed due to this being the first 100% divorce and the major impact this may have in the future for other husbands across England and Wales.
The man in question, Dr Essam Aly a hospital consultant, aged 54 was married to his wife Enas for nine years and they had two children together. In 2011 the relationship broke down and Essam left the family home; within a year he had moved to Bahrain, remarried and went on to have his third child.
Enas attempted to bring enforcement proceedings against Essam in Bahrain due to him refusing to pay any maintenance for their children since 2012, however, this was unsuccessful. Therefore, Enas obtained a “Freezing Order” over those of her husband’s assets which were considered by the Court as being part of the matrimonial estate. Most of the assets were awarded to Enas by the Family Court.
It is well known that generally a marriage of this length equates to the capital being divided fifty fifty. However, the Court can and will deviate from this when necessary in order to secure an outcome where both parties can be adequately rehoused. When considering the appropriateness of a financial resolution the child/children’s welfare is paramount and will have a significant impact upon the resolution of the case.
During the hearing in the Court of Appeal Essam expressed his views which were that he felt the 100% Judgment was greatly unfair. The Court ascertained that despite Essam’s financially “well off” status there was no indication that Essam had any intention of paying towards the children of his first marriage and with this being taken into consideration the Court of Appeal were of the mind that Enas should receive the vast majority of the estate and if not all of the assets. This was to ensure that Enas and the children were able to live in appropriate accommodation and to ensure that she was able to provide for the children until they reach adulthood.
It is believed that the Court of Appeal made the “rare” judgment due to the fact that Essam proved he cannot be trusted not to default if he was ordered to make regular maintenance payments to Enas and the children. Although the Court were clearly unimpressed with the behaviour of Essam, it is felt the Judgment was not punitive, it was practical. The Court made the Judgment to ensure that maintenance was available as and when the mother and her children needed it, as a direct result of Essam’s very clear avoidance of paying maintenance in the past.
Although some may say that this ruling was extreme, in such circumstances the Judge has a duty to ensure that fair and appropriate provisions for families are secured especially when one party refuses to accept their responsibilities and act accordingly. If you are currently considering separation or are going through a divorce then please contact Vines Legal today on 01246 555 610 to speak with one of our qualified and experienced professionals.