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Talks Divorce

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QUESTION

I am in the middle of divorcing my husband, but this process is taking far longer than I had ever anticipated.

My husband is being extremely difficult and will not agree anything, which has meant that I have had to fight for maintenance to be paid for the period until the argument between me and my husband about money has been settled.

It is now some six months since my interim maintenance was ordered by the Court, and I have recently discovered that four months ago my husband received a large bonus and his income went up. My solicitor is telling me that there is no point in my applying for increased interim maintenance because the Final Hearing will take place reasonably soon.

This does not seem fair to me as I am struggling to make ends meet, and have done ever since separation. Is there anything I can do?

ANSWER

The High Court in London has very recently stated that at a Final Hearing of a financial dispute matrimonial case the Trial Judge can order the varying of a Maintenance Pending Suit Order retrospectively.

It therefore seems to me that if you can prove to the Court that your husband became significantly wealthier during the period that your Maintenance Pending Suit has been paid, then there is nothing to stop you asking for the Court to decide on what appropriate maintenance your husband should have been paying from the date of his increased income, and then award arrears for the same period.

QUESTION

My wife is divorcing me.

I am a part-owner of a family business, and my wife has, until very recently, been dealing with the accounts.

We have just secured a very significant new contract with a large company, and have been approached by a competitor in relation to a merger.

As my wife and I separated a year ago I do not see that any of this is relevant to our divorce, but to my extreme annoyance I believe that my wife has been hacking into my computer and downloading information about all of these issues.

Surely her behaviour would not be condoned by the Court?

ANSWER

The fact that your wife has hacked into your computer and taken confidential information breaches your rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, the current state of your business is very likely to be relevant to the issues the Court will have to consider when deciding on the division of assets on divorce, and your wife is entitled to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Certainly your wife and her solicitors are under an obligation to tell you if they have downloaded this information, as you suspect, and should do so promptly. I think it is unlikely, however, that a Court will refuse to look at these documents albeit they could make a Penal Costs Order against your wife, if they thought it appropriate, because of her behaviour.

Fundamentally I think that the principle you need to bear in mind is that full disclosure is appropriate, and this will continue up to the date of the Final Hearing and even thereafter.

Your wife’s behaviour may well be reprehensible, but I think the information she has uncovered will be used at the final trial.

A similar issue has recently been dealt with in the case of Imerman v Imerman 2009, and the Court took the view I have outlined above.