Court awards wife £350,000 plus half husband’s pension
A husband has lost his appeal against a court order awarding his wife a large lump sum and half his pension.
The case involved a couple who divorced after several years of marriage. There were no dependent children.
The husband was ordered to pay the wife a lump sum of £350,000. The judge found that the wife was also entitled to an equal share of the husband's pension, but he adjourned that aspect of the wife's application on the basis that a pension sharing order could be used as a means of enforcement if the husband did not comply with the lump sum order.
As feared, the husband didn’t pay so in July 2015 the judge decided to enforce £200,000 of the lump sum order by means of the pension sharing order.
He therefore added £200,000 to the wife's half-share of the husband's pension and determined that the total sum amounted to 76% of the husband's pension.
He ordered the remaining £150,000 of the lump sum to be paid from the sale of one of the husband’s properties, and accrued interest of some £26,000 on the unpaid lump sum to be paid from the sale of another property.
The husband complained that the judge had been wrong to exercise his discretion to use the pension fund as a means of enforcement, and that increasing the pension sharing order to reflect non-compliance was not permissible.
However, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision. The judge’s reasoning was clear and he was merely putting into effect the order which he had made in the first place.
His use of a percentage rather than a fixed amount had not conferred additional benefit on the wife because the husband had so far paid nothing, and only had himself to blame for failing to take steps to comply with the lump sum order when it was made.
Please contact Carey Vigor or Shelley Rolfe if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.