Case Review (Matrimonial Law) O'H v O'H [2013] NIFam 9 (28 November 2013)

4 February 2014

In this recent High Court judgement, Weir J reflected on the potential cost of divorce, not only in monetary terms but the effects it can have on families

The parties were married on 1986 and separated in June 2002. They had two children born in 1994 and 1996. Weir J described the couple as having subjected their children to a "lengthy and acrimonious dispute about a myriad of matters related to the arrangements for their residence and contact... and a protracted squabble about their modest matrimonial assets, accruing in the process yet more acrimony and considerable and quite disproportionate expense ..."

It was estimated that the wife's costs would be in the region of £50,000 and the husband had been partly responsible for dragging out the proceedings which almost bordered on litigation misconduct. For that reason, Weir J ordered that the husband pay a significant contribution towards his wife's costs which would be deducted from his share of the assets.

As a post to the judgement Weir J commented:

"If an example were to be sought as to how arrangements between parties upon the breakdown of their marriage ought not to be handled this case would provide a paradigm. In my view such matters should be resolved quickly, quietly and respectfully - rather like a family funeral. Such an approach minimises the hurt that one or both parties is naturally likely to feel, reduces the adverse effect upon any children of the family, maximises what are often scarce resources needed for the future use of the parties instead of dissipating them in costly litigation and shortens the period needed before the parties can move on to live their lives independently of each other. None of these advantages has accrued to the parties in this case. Rather has there been a long and bruising battle over the children and the modest matrimonial assets that has left everyone concerned wounded, impoverished and unable to move on. It has been my unhappy task to have been engaged in umpiring both these battles and I have found it a most dispiriting experience. Let me therefore express the fervent hope that a line may at last be drawn under this unhappy period in the life of this family and that something resembling peace may be allowed at last to reign. The principal and innocent victims, the children, deserve nothing less"

 

At Murphy O'Rawe we aim to settle matrimonial disputes with as little upset and acrimony as is possible, in the interests of all of the family.  To arrange an appointment contact Rosemary Martin on 02890 326636.

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