Smith v Smith: CA 1970

The husband had deserted the wife and gone abroad to work; the sole asset was the matrimonial home which was in joint names, and which constituted a post-nuptial settlement. The wife applied for variation of the settlement, whereby, on obtaining the whole of the interest in the former matrimonial home, she would abandon any further claim to maintenance.
Held: The Court varied the settlement by extinguishing the husband’s interest in the house as if he were then dead and the wife had survived him, but ordered that she should forego any claim to future maintenance, lump sum, or secured provision.
Lord Denning MR (with whom both Salmon and Edmund Davies LJJ agreed) described the exercise of discretion: ‘The court can vary the established rights in those assets in whatever way it thinks fit. Its discretion is unlimited; see Egerton v Egerton [1949] 2 All ER 238. It can consider the conduct of the parties; the incomes of each; their earning capacity; their financial needs; their ages; their standards of living; the contributions made by each, and not merely their financial contributions, direct or indirect, but also any contributions made (particularly by the wife) by looking after the home and caring for the children. In short, the discretion is just as wide as that which is contained in the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Bill now before Parliament. That will not become law until 1 January 1971. But meanwhile the courts have, by judicial decision, reached the same result.’
Lord Denning MR, Salmon and Edmund Davies LJJ
[1970] 1 WLR 155, [1970] 1 All ER 244
Matrimonial Causes Act 1965 17
England and Wales
CitedEgerton v Egerton 1949
The court considered its power to vary a post-nuptial settlement. Barnard J said: ‘No one could quarrel with this statement as a guiding principle, but at the same time I think it would be wrong to interpret it as meaning that it is a principle . .

Cited by:
CitedBen Hashem v Ali Shayif and Another FD 22-Sep-2008
The court was asked to pierce the veil of incorporation of a company in the course of ancillary relief proceedings in a divorce. H had failed to co-operate with the court.
After a comprehensive review of all the authorities, Munby J said: ‘The . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 21 May 2021; Ref: scu.652157