London – Still the Divorce Capital of the World?

11 April 2011

The Court of Appeal have upheld an award of £2.8 million to a 27 year old wife after a two year marriage. Both parties are Russian and lived in a £4 million property in Kensington. The husband is 26 and the parties have a two year old daughter. The husband contested the lower Court’s decision on the basis it was disproportionate to the length of the marriage, the majority of his wealth emanated from his parents and the English Courts had no jurisdiction.

The wife issued divorce proceedings in England in February 2009 and the husband issued in Russia in April 2009. The Court of Appeal determined that the Russian divorce should stand but allowed a claim by the wife in England pursuant to Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings 1984 (the “MFPA”). The MFPA enables a party with significant connections to this country to apply for financial provision here in circumstances where a divorce has been previously pronounced abroad but where inadequate (or no) financial provision has been made by the foreign Court.

We do not know the extent of the husband’s wealth but the quantum of the award is perhaps not surprising (certainly on the basis of the law as it currently stands in this country) given the value of the family home, the fact the parties apparently spent £2 million during the marriage and that they have a child.

As practitioners we have seen a rise in applications under the MFPA – no doubt due to the number of international families living in London.

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