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Family Law Journal: May 2016

Sarah Passemard looks at the development of case law on add-backs based on financial conduct

One website described the decision in Rapp v Sarre [2016] as ‘Court upholds addictive behaviour as a reason for unequal divorce settlement’. Divorcing couples around the country started considering their spouse’s addiction to Manchester United or The X Factor, and wondering if they could run the same argument.

JMW

Clare Williams and Jo-Anna Jellings consider a High Court decision which turned on the interpretation of the wording in the order

In BG v BA (Deceased) [2015] the court was concerned with a consent order and whether the apparent meaning of one part of it was consistent with the intentions behind the order as a whole. The case was unusual in two respects. First it was concerned with the textual interpretation of a consent order drafted by ‘first-rate matrimonial finance lawyers’ in what must have been one of the larger divorce settlements to go through the English courts in 2015. Secondly, the husband had sadly died in March 2013, leaving a large but insolvent estate. The litigation was therefore conducted between the wife and the trustees in bankruptcy of the husband’s estate.

Anna Shadbolt details the law reform campaign in relation to civil partnership and the ongoing issues regarding cohabitant reform

Earlier this year the claimants in Steinfeld v Secretary of State for Education [2016] received the news that their judicial review claim for reform of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (CPA 2004) was unsuccessful. The progress of their campaign to open up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples has been widely reported, and watched with interest by the general public, lawyers and MPs. The claimants have voiced their ideological reasons for opposing the institution of marriage, based upon a belief that it is a historically patriarchal institution. They have explained their concerns about the obvious lack of legal protection available to unmarried, cohabiting couples in committed, long-term relationships, and they have campaigned for the ability to formalise their relationship in a way that provides for equality, regardless of sexual orientation.

Withers LLP

Amanda Bell and Alasdair Wild highlight pension reforms that may impact on the structure of a financial settlement on divorce

Pensions have long been a valuable vehicle for saving, and therefore an important asset to consider in discussions about the division of assets on divorce. Recent changes in the pensions landscape are dramatic and present a number of potential pitfalls, as well as valuable opportunities, for divorcing spouses. In this article we intend to highlight some issues for matrimonial lawyers to think about when dealing with cases involving pensions.

Richard Adams examines the circumstances in which diplomatic immunity may prevent a claim by a spouse

The decision of Hayden J in Estrada v Al-Juffali [2016] dealt with the circumstances in which diplomatic immunity may be claimed for the purpose of matrimonial proceedings. It concerned an application by a Saudi businessman of considerable wealth to strike out his ex-wife’s claim for financial relief pursuant to Pt III, Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 (MFPA 1984), on the assertion that he was protected from civil action on the basis of diplomatic immunity. The High Court decision was subject to an appeal, with the Court of Appeal finding that Hayden J was wrong in some respects, but correct in others.

Fiona Wood summarises the courts’ approach to periodical payments orders and the limited circumstances in which a stepped order will be appropriate

In Aburn v Aburn [2016], a smaller money case where a stepped periodical payments order had been made at first instance, the Court of Appeal helpfully reviewed the law relating to periodical payments.

In the first of a two-part analysis of forced and child marriage in Bangladesh and the UK, Shabina Begum sets out actions being taken, and the obstacles to success, in Bangladesh

In recent years there has been a focus globally to reduce early and forced marriage. In many countries this problem manifests in different ways and as a result the response to the problem is also varied. In July 2014 the UK government and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) hosted the Girl Summit in London, with a view to build partnerships and galvanise the global movements to end female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and child early and forced marriage (CEFM). This event was attended by approximately 500 delegates from 50 countries and numerous countries made a pledge to end early and forced marriage in their respective countries. Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Shiekh Hasina, was among those who pledged and she committed to end early and forced marriage by 2041 in Bangladesh. Bangladesh remains in the top five countries with the highest number of child marriages in the world (reference: International Center for Research on Women), where 66% of girls are married by the time they turn 18, with 32% marrying before the age of 15 (reference: Girls not Brides) (see end of article for references).