Are the Family Courts Getting Tougher?

It is often people's perception that the Family court is user friendly, focussed on better relationships between separating couples and all for the benefit of their children.  This is true as there is a high degree of commitment to dealing with family disputes in a non-confrontational manner.  However, how can you achieve a fair outcome in a family case where either the husband or wife is determined to mislead the court as to their financial situation and refuse to provide proper information?

It seems that there is now a trend emerging where Judges' patience with these parties has come to an end.  In the recent reported case of W v S (committal) 2015 the husband refused to engage in proper financial disclosure of his situation.  He provided some forms for the court that were only partially completed but after being ordered to complete his forms and provide prescribed documentation he still failed to comply.  A further application was made by his former wife to force him to obey the court order.

The wife's solicitors had attempted to avoid bringing the matter back to the Judge by setting out in clear terms what was required and where the husband had fallen short of his obligation.  The Judge took the view that there was a clear breach of the court order.  The Judge further was of the view that due to the husband's arrogance it was unlikely that he would change his approach.  Although this was his first breach of an order the Judge took the view that because it was wilful, he would  sentence the husband to 14 days of imprisonment suspended on the condition that the husband comply with the court order.

Although this case revolved around a single breach of a court order the Judge took an extremely dim view of the husband's general attitude and approach to the ongoing proceedings.  The husband here probably anticipated that he would be given numerous opportunities to obey the orders made by the Judge.  The Judge clearly had a different view!  Not only was the husband forced to comply but he was ordered to pay his wife's wasted costs.

Rollits' Family Team are able to advise on all aspects of disclosure within financial proceedings.

Posted on: 29/09/2015

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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