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Fresh start for husband following divorce

Michelle Uppal helped achieve a fair settlement, without going to court, so her client could move on with his life positively following redundancy and divorce.

After 18 years of marriage, the couple had one child, aged 15, a joint mortgage on their home and several debts in their own names and jointly at the time of their separation. Following an altercation our client’s wife alleged that she was at risk of harm and sought a non-molestation and occupation order. Our client left the family home voluntarily and did not wish to return.

Although he did not accept the allegations against him, he did not wish to contest them. Recently made redundant from his high-powered position our client was suffering poor mental health and was of limited means. Legal Aid was not available for representation at the County Court injunction proceedings in Preston, where his wife resided so we wrote to the court outlining our client’s position so that he could attend in person.

Urgent matters arose relating to mortgage arrears, but we were able to prevent the repossession of the family home while negotiating with his wife’s solicitors. She secured a loan from her parents to pay off the arrears and the couple agreed to place the property on the market for sale.

Our client wanted to defend his wife’s petition for divorce on the grounds of his unreasonable behaviour. On our advice he agreed to proceed without admission to the particulars, which reduced cost and reduced the bitterness and resentment which could have resulted from protracted arguments.

We encouraged both parties to exchange financial disclosure voluntarily but, unable to cope with the stress our client failed to provide instructions and his wife issued financial relief proceedings due to his delay.

The family home was sold and we agreed that the proceeds of sale should be held to both parties order pending resolution of financial matters.

Our client’s health improved but he was keen to try and resolve matters rather than go to court. Conscious of the stress of a court hearing, we negotiated an adjournment to resolve issues of disclosure and exchange questionnaires.

Michelle, an experienced practitioner in Collaborative Law, proposed to the wife’s lawyers that a round table meeting might reduce issues. All parties agreed but geographic distance meant we conducted the meeting at our respective offices by telephone conference.

Prior to the meeting, Michelle suggested exchanging aspiration statements. This helped significantly reduce hostility between the parties who had not spoken for more than two years. And was especially useful for the wife, who had lost all trust in her husband, to hear that they both wanted to achieve a fair and reasonable settlement for the benefit of their child.

The telephone conference was incredibly successful. We were able to narrow the issues and agree the deduction of several matrimonial debts and loans to relieve the financial burden. The only outstanding issue was our client’s substantial pension.

We obtained further detailed reports from the pension companies and advice from an IFA but agreed it would be disproportionate to costs to obtain a full pension report. Following lengthy negotiations, offers and counter offers, the parties settled matters and agreed a consent order, with pension sharing orders in the wife’s favour.

Our client was extremely pleased that he did not have to attend court and that his share of the net proceeds was sufficient to discharge his debts, pay his legal fees and leave a sum for himself. Having secured employment, he was able to focus on his new life, satisfied that all matters had been concluded fairly.

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.

Michelle Uppal, Miles & Partners Solicitors, London

Michelle Uppal

Mediator and Solicitor | Head of the matrimonial department

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