Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Ever get that sinking feeling?!

In the papers today there are reports of criminal proceedings brought against a woman who allegedly sank her ex-husband's luxury boat in Brighton Marina in 2004 after their marriage ran into difficulties.  The lady in question has, according to reports, pleaded guilty to damaging the boat and faces sentencing next month. 
Whilst the report focuses on the criminal consequences of such behaviour, it also serves as an example of a rare case of the kind of conduct which can be taken into account by the court when considering how a couple's financial assets should be divided following a divorce. 
Many people wrongly assume that when looking at a financial settlement, the court will consider issues such as why the marriage ended, or unkind or ill-treatment by one spouse towards the other.  It is, however, only in very limited circumstances that conduct will be deemed relevant to how the assets are divided on divorce.  Case law provides guidance on the kind of behaviour which will be taken into account - examples include attempted murder, deliberately squandering assets and intentionally causing significant damage to assets or property.  Raising the issue of conduct in circumstances where it will not apply can lead to increased costs and potentially a longer delay before the proceedings can be concluded and it is therefore always advisable for people to seek guidance on whether or not raising the issue will be beneficial to their case.

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