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Clean break for wife

Michelle Uppal achieved a happy outcome for her client after years of delays, frustration and distress relating to her divorce and financial matters.

The client engaged Miles & Partners after her previous solicitors had made no progress on her case in over two years. She had limited means so we applied for legal aid but she was deemed ineligible. English was not her first language so we needed to ensure that she fully understood the complex financial matters.

When her husband disappeared in 1999, he left our client and his daughter facing considerable debt. The jointly-owned family home was subject to a mortgage and there were several debts both jointly and in the parties own names. The client continued to pay the mortgage and debts each month, receiving no financial support from her husband in respect of the property or their daughter.

He sporadically reappeared and our client had attempted to reach a financial settlement but, each time her husband returned to the UK from his native Italy, they were unable to reach an agreement. She petitioned for divorce and made considerable efforts to deem service on him when he did not respond.

The husband refused to transfer the property into our client’s sole name in exchange for removing his name from the mortgage. He suggested instead that the property should be sold and the sale proceeds divided equally between both parties even though he had not paid the mortgage for 14 years.

He did not instruct a lawyer based in England but was using an Italian lawyer in Italy who was not familiar with English family law. He continued to be hostile and would not engage in the process of agreeing a financial settlement.

We advised our client that she had no option but to issue financial proceedings. She was reluctant to take the matter to Court and doubted that her husband would co-operate but immediately proceedings were issues, her husband responded with a sparse financial statement. Our client was satisfied as her only concern was the transfer of the matrimonial home into her sole name.

We proposed an offer which the husband accepted well in advance of the first hearing, so we swiftly prepared the consent order and instructed a conveyancing solicitor to deal with the transfer of the home into our client’s sole name.

However, they were unable to release the husband from the mortgage until mortgage arrears were cleared. We assisted in lengthy negotiations with the mortgage company and our client’s conveyancing solicitor. We also advised our client to seek independent financial advice, which she did.

Eventually we were able to forward the transfer and consent order to the husband in Italy. He signed and returned the documents and the house was finally transferred into our client’s sole name.

The divorce was concluded and consent order sealed. The client told us that her life had changed and that she was delighted, relieved and thankful to finally have achieved a clean break.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.