Last updateTue, 24 Feb 2015 5pm



In the first of a two-part analysis, Deborah Jeff questions whether the Privy Council decision in Scatliffe v Scatliffe has further developed the law on non-matrimonial assets

The judgment in Scatliffe v Scatliffe [2016] was concerned with an appeal against an order made by the Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (British Virgin Islands (BVI)). The Privy Council was concerned with whether there had been a ‘serious misunderstanding’ as to the nature of non-matrimonial property.

Deborah Jeff considers potential changes to the law relating to cohabitants and provides a timely reminder of the limited remedies currently available

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) (Statistical Bulletin: Families and Households, 2015) show that more adults in England and Wales now live unmarried with their partner. At least 3.2 million couples have, for whatever reason, chosen to reside together in an enduring relationship but without the legal protection and responsibilities that marriage brings. The statistics in relation to children born to cohabitants perhaps best highlight the societal trend over the last 40 years. In 2014, children born to married parents accounted for 52.5% of births, compared to 91% in 1972 (ONS, Birth Summary Tables, England and Wales, 2014).

Toby Hales analyses whether the Supreme Court decisions in Gohil and Sharland will finally cheat-proof family justice

There were more than a few raised eyebrows when the Court of Appeal delivered its decisions in Gohil v Gohil [2014] and Sharland v Sharland [2014]. Mr Gohil, who had been convicted and imprisoned on charges of fraud and money laundering, and Mr Sharland, who had been found to have ‘deliberately and dishonestly’ concealed the true value of his company, had strolled off into the wild blue yonder with their misbehaviour, if not approved of by the court, at least having gone unpunished. The fate of their former wives was somewhat different: Mrs Sharland would have to make do with the original £10m plus a deferred lump sum from shares, and Mrs Gohil, in contrast, was left with her original lump sum of £270,000, having had little further assistance from her former husband.

James Ward gives an update for practitioners on the management of digital assets

Digital assets are all around us. It is almost impossible to exist in today’s world without owning, relying upon, referring to or communicating through some form of digital asset. The internet is increasingly becoming the main storage of our financial and personal lives and there seems to be no stopping this increase in the future.

Victoria Sterritt takes a critical look at the pros and cons of government funding for DNA testing

In February 2015 Justice Minister Simon Hughes made an announcement regarding orders for and the funding of DNA tests in the family courts with effect from September 2015, saying:

In the conclusion to a two-part analysis of periodical payments, Sonny Patel discusses the courts’ approach to the duration of orders

Part one of this article (‘Calculating need’, FLJ135 p22-24) summarised the legal framework within which the courts make decisions about the quantum of spousal maintenance following divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership. As the quantum of maintenance is being assessed, consideration must also be given to how long those payments will be made for.

In the first of a two-part analysis Sonny Patel looks at the approach to the quantum of spousal maintenance

In a speech given to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Family Law in 2010, Mostyn J said:

Sonny Patel sets out the courts’ approach to inherited assets and steps that can be taken to protect the interests of parties

On divorce, the family courts have a very wide discretion to re-allocate assets from one party to another, regardless of the strict legal ownership or the origin of the assets. The discretionary nature of family law allows the court to impose tailor-made, fact-specific solutions but this also means that it can be difficult to give precise advice on the likely outcome on a given set of facts. Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 sets out the considerations that the court must consider if asked to impose a financial order. They are not listed in any order of priority; different factors may have varying weight in different cases depending on the facts.