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ANCILLARY RELIEF: B v B [2007] EWHC 594 (Fam)

Date:24 APR 2007

(Family Division; Sir Mark Potter P; 21 March 2007)

Following the couple's separation, the property developer husband moved to the US to develop his business there (apparently prosperously), taking with him £300,000 but leaving behind considerable debts in the UK. The judge awarded the wife the proceeds of all the English properties, after deduction of costs of sale and the balance of the UK tax, leaving the husband with £134,000 in property and debts that might amount to nearly £500,000, including a substantial liability to US tax. This was not a case in which the judge had inferred missing assets, although the judge had found that the husband's disclosure was not reliable. Instead the judge had drawn the inference that the husband had an available line of credit and a well-developed business acumen that would enable him to prosper.

Dismissing the husband's appeal, the court considered that the judge had been fair, given the husband's history of studied indifference to family obligations. The judge had been entitled to follow the line taken by Charles J in Rye v Rye [2002] 2 FLR 981; there had been ample material upon which the court had been entitled to conclude that the husband was capable of organising his affairs and juggling his finances so as to trade out his debt situation and that he would continue to enjoy a lifestyle superior to that of the wife and children he had left behind in the UK after transferring to the US substantial assets realised in order to finance his own needs. The judge's costs order against the husband was upheld, and was not capped notwithstanding that the wife was publicly funded.