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Is W v H the beginning of the end of non-matrimonial property?

Date:30 OCT 2020
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Kate Armstrong, Dere Street

Does the recent first-instance case of W v H [2020] EWFC B10 herald the beginning of the end of the concept of non-matrimonial property? 

This first instance decision is likely to be given considerable weight due to HHJ Hess’s position as co-chair of the Pensions Advisory Group (PAG) and co-author of Pensions on Divorce. The assets are far more akin to the ‘normal’ cases practitioners are familiar with than much of the reported jurisprudence. There was a modest family home, no savings, and by far the most significant asset was the husband’s (H) pension.

There is a paucity of authority on how to deal with the assets in cases which are not high value, and therefore not ‘sharing’ cases. Parties are unlikely to be able to fund the sort of lengthy and expensive appellate litigation which often finds its way into the reported jurisprudence. The article explores the implications of this judgment for the approach to pensions in ‘needs’ cases, as well as whether it has wider application with regards to capital assets.

The full article will be published in the November issue of Family Law

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