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ANCILLARY RELIEF: H v H (Financial Relief: Attempted Murder as Conduct) [2005] EWHC 2911

Date:13 JUL 2005

(Family Division; Coleridge J; 13 July 2005) [2006] 1 FLR 990

The husband had been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for an attempt to murder the wife in the matrimonial home in the presence of the couple's young children. Notwithstanding the wife's very serious knife injuries, and a tape recording of the incident which substantiated the wife's account, the husband pleaded not guilty and persisted in an allegation that the wife had attacked him during the 6 day trial. The wife, formerly a police officer, had been unable to work since the incident, and had left the matrimonial home. The husband, still serving his sentence, had refused to consent to sale of the matrimonial home, and had refused to permit the property to be let out.

This was not merely conduct which it would be inequitable to disregard within Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, s 25 (g), it was conduct at the very top end of the scale. The court should not be punitive or confiscatory for its own sake; the proper way to have regard to such conduct was as a potentially magnifying factor when considering the wife's position under the other subsection and criteria, placing the wife's needs as a much higher priority to those of the husband because the situation in which the wife now found herself was, in a very real way, his fault.