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I am cohabiting with my new partner – will that have a bearing on what I am likely to receive in my divorce?

Paul Walters, Solicitor in Astle Paterson’s Divorce & Family Department discusses the Court of Appeal’s recent decision in the case of Hart v Hart [2016] EWCA Civ 497.

Paul explained, “Mr and Mrs Hart married in 1987 and when they separated their assets amounted to some £10m.

At the hearing of Mrs Hart’s claim for financial provision on divorce, Mr Hart sought to have the amount he should pay to her dramatically reduced, on the basis that Mrs Hart had formed a relationship with, and was cohabiting with, another man – a Mr Chubb.

Mr Hart contended that as Mrs Hart was now living with Mr Chubb, she should be expected to rely on Mr Chubb to support her financially and her entitlement to the Hart’s assets should be reduced.

The initial Judge disagreed and concluded, “I do not consider that the presence of Mr Chubb in the life of Mrs Hart should in any way diminish her needs.”   Mrs Hart was awarded approximately £3.5m out of the £10m assets.

Mr Hart sought to appeal the Order, on the basis he believed the Judge had got the decision wrong in failing to take into account Mrs Hart’s cohabitation.

However, the Court of Appeal rejected Mr Hart’s application for permission to appeal and so the initial decision, which ignored the fact Mrs Hart was cohabiting in deciding what she should receive from the marital assets, was upheld.”

Paul concluded, “The decision in this case shows a Court’s reluctance to reduce a person’s entitlement to reasonable provision out of matrimonial assets on the basis that they are cohabiting with another person.

However, the fact that the argument was raised reinforces our advice that it is usually better to deal with financial matters on divorce as early as is practicable following a separation – it not only gives finality to both parties, but it alleviates any future arguments that one of the parties should be entitled to more or less of the assets following a change in circumstances.”

At Astle Paterson we have a number of experienced specialist family solicitors who have the knowledge and know how to assist you through your divorce process.

Should you wish to discuss matters further with Paul, then please contact him on either 01283 743968 or by way of email to his secretary, Helen Shipley at hshipley@astlepaterson.co.uk.

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