divorce financial remedy proceedings
Divorce

How not to behave in divorce financial remedy proceedings

Posted by
James Harbottle
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How not to behave in divorce financial remedy proceedingsHow not to behave in divorce financial remedy proceedings

It goes without saying that when a couples divorce emotions can run high. Anger, and even hatred, can make each party want to paint the other in the most disparaging terms. Such personal attacks are sadly commonplace in family court proceedings, including divorce financial remedy proceedings.

Attacks of this nature are made not just out of an understandable desire to ‘get back’ at the other party, but also often in the mistaken belief that denigrating the other party in this way will somehow help the attacker’s case, and therefore secure them a more favourable financial settlement.

But this sort of behaviour will not help their case, as a judge warned last week


Irrelevant matters

When a court considers a financial remedies application it will obviously only be concerned with matters that are relevant to its decision. But often a party will raise matters without giving consideration to whether they are in fact relevant.

divorce financial remedy proceedings

A common example of this is where one party strongly feels that the other has behaved badly. They may naturally believe that that behaviour should have a bearing upon the outcome of the case. But bad behaviour very rarely has any bearing at all upon the outcome of a financial remedies application.

And unless it is one of those very rare cases where it does have a bearing, bringing up such irrelevant behaviour, usually within a statement prepared in connection with the case, should be avoided.

As the judge in the case last week pointed out, the guidelines make it quite clear that statements must only contain evidence, and “on no account should contain argument or other rhetoric”.

In the case, the judge found that the wife’s statement crossed the line and descended into a number of personal and prejudicial matters directed at the husband which, in his view, were irrelevant to the matters at hand.

The judge warned: “Parties, and their legal advisers, may be under the impression that to describe the other party in pejorative terms, and seek to paint an unfavourable picture, will assist their case. It is high time that parties and their lawyers disabuse themselves of this erroneous notion. Judges will deal with relevant evidence, and will not base decisions on alleged moral turpitude or … a “rummage through the attic” of the marriage”.

 

Bringing up multiple issues during divorce financial remedy proceedingsproperty divided on divorce

And this links to a more general point: it may be tempting to draw the court’s attention to a whole range of matters, in the hope that at least some of those matters may be relevant to the case. But before doing so, real consideration should be given to whether those matters are actually relevant.

As the judge stated, it seemed clear to him at the start of the trial that “far and away” the most material aspect of the case was the wife’s reasonable needs (the financial needs of the parties is the most important issue in most financial remedy cases). By the end of the trial, continued the judge, his view on that had not altered. However, he said: “It is a moot point whether the wide-ranging, and at times bad-tempered, inquiry by the parties into a multiplicity of other issues achieved much of value.”

In other words, the haphazard ‘scattergun’ approach to giving evidence to the court is pointless: just keep your evidence to what is actually relevant.

The reader may wonder: why does all of this matter? After all, you pay for your ‘day in court’ – why can’t you just say what you want to say?

Well you can, up to a point. But consider for a moment the judge wading through reams of irrelevant evidence. That is hardly likely to make them look upon your case more favourably.

And then there is the matter of costs. Arguing irrelevant matters is obviously going to take up more time, which in turn will increase the costs. Court proceedings are expensive enough as it is, without adding to that cost by raising issues that will not help your case.

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As a team of experienced family solicitors, Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation can help with, divorce financial remedy proceedings and the Financial Arrangements involved during a divorce. Do get in touch via our contact page if you’d like to discuss any of the issues that arise from the article above.