GW v RW (Financial Provision: Departure from Equality): FD 18 Mar 2003

An entitlement to an equal division must reflect not only the parties’ respective contributions ‘but also an accrual over time’, and it would be ‘fundamentally unfair’ that a party who has made domestic contributions during a marriage of 12 years should be awarded the same proportion of the assets as a party who has made the domestic contributions for more than 20 years.
Mostyn QC J said: ‘[Foley] . . is now nearly 22 years old. The case of White v White has emphasised that the law in this area is not moribund but must move to reflect changing social values. I cannot imagine anyone nowadays seriously stigmatising pre-marital cohabitation as ‘living in sin’ or lacking the quality of emotional commitment assumed in marriage. Thus, in my judgment, where a relationship moves seamlessly from cohabitation to marriage without any major alteration in the way the couple live, it is unreal and artificial to treat the periods differently. On the other hand, if it is found that the pre-marital cohabitation was on the basis of a trial period to see if there was any basis for later marriage then I would be of the view that it would not be right to include it as part of the ‘duration of the marriage’. This was the finding made in the recent case of F v F (unreported) 14 January 2003 by Hartmann J in the High Court of Hong Kong, which decision contains some valuable insights on this and other aspects of the law of ancillary relief. There is no basis for such a finding in this case, and I therefore include the 18 months of pre-marital cohabitation here as part of the ‘duration of the marriage’
and ‘I do not shrink from saying that this is a difficult issue. The logic deployed by Mr. Pointer has obvious force. But on the other hand it seems to me that to adopt it requires me to put a blue pencil straight through the statutory criterion of the duration of the marriage. The failure of the judge in L v L (Financial Provision: Contributions) [2002] 1 FLR 642 (Lambert) to give sufficient weight to this factor was specifically criticised by the Court of Appeal. It seems to me that the assumption of equal value of contribution is very obvious where the marriage is over 20 years. For shorter periods the assumption seems to me to be more problematic. I am not attracted to a formulaic solution, as suggested by John Eekelaar, but I do in essence accept his proposition that the entitlement to an equal division must reflect not only the parties’ respective contributions but also an accrual over time’.
Mostyn QC J
[2003] EWHC 611 (Fam), [2003] Fam Law 386, [2003] 2 FLR 108, [2003] 2 FCR 289
Family Proceedings (Amendment No 2) Rules 1999 (1999 No 3491) 2.69B, Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 23
England and Wales
Cited by:
DoubtedNorris v Norris, Haskins v Haskins CA 28-Jul-2003
The court considered how orders for costs were to be made in ‘big money’ cases.
Held: There were two sets of rules. Cases should be considered by first applying the Civil Procedure Rules. This would allow the court to consider the full range . .
PreferredM v M (Financial Relief: Substantial Earning Capacity) FD 29-Mar-2004
The parties had been married for 12 years, there were three children, one with special needs, and assets of over 12 million pounds. The court considered the application for ancillary relief. It was substantially agreed that the wife should receive . .
Not followedMiller v Miller; McFarlane v McFarlane HL 24-May-2006
Fairness on Division of Family Capital
The House faced the question of how to achieve fairness in the division of property following a divorce. In the one case there were substantial assets but a short marriage, and in the other a high income, but low capital.
Held: The 1973 Act . .
CitedRossi v Rossi FD 26-Jun-2006
W sought to challenge transactions entered into by H anticipating ancillary relief proceedings on their divorce. Nicholas Mostyn QC J said: ‘While of course no rigid rule can be expressed for the infinite variety of facts that arise in ancillary . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 30 September 2021; Ref: scu.247605