(Family Division, Moor J, 8 June 2016)
Marriage and divorce – Decree nisi – Financial negotiations unsuccessful – Husband sought decree absolute – Wife claimed special circumstances
The husband’s application for decree absolute was dismissed.
The husband and wife were married for 4 years. The wife petitioned for divorce in 2014 and applied for financial orders. She claimed that the husband was a billionaire and that he ran a group of offshore companies for his own benefit. Negotiations took place in respect of the wife’s financial claims but no agreement could be reached. In 2015 the husband gave an undertaking that he would give the wife 14 days’ notice when he intended to apply for decree absolute. The wife applied for decree nisi but she was clear that she would not apply for decree absolute until the financial arrangements were concluded.
At the end of 2015 the husband applied for decree absolute. The wife strongly contested the application on the basis that the husband had failed so far to give full and frank disclosure. There would undoubtedly be difficulties in establishing the extent of the husband’s assets and enforcing any subsequent order made by the court, in that sense it would make a difference if the applicant was a wife or a former wife.
The application for decree absolute was dismissed. In the circumstances where all of the husband’s assets were held offshore in complicated structures, the wife had established the special circumstances sufficient to override the otherwise strong presumption in favour of ending the marriage.