White v White: HL 26 Oct 2000

The couple going through the divorce each had substantial farms and wished to continue farming. It had been a long marriage.
Held: Where a division of the assets of a family would satisfy the reasonable needs of either party on an ancillary relief application on a divorce, the court should include consideration of why any departure from an equal division should take place. This not to make such a consideration the starting point. If each party to the marriage had contributed in their different ways, it mattered not in whose name assets were held. The House did not advocate a presumption of equality of division but brought equality into consideration as a criterion by which to measure the fairness of the award. The court therefore reserved the possibility of varying an award away from equal division if fairness itself required a departure from the principle of equality. A desire to have assets which might be left to the children was a consideration, even if it was a lesser one. Applying Piglowska, there was no sufficient reason to depart from the Court of Appeal’s judgment.
Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead: ‘equality should be departed from, only if, and to the extent that, there is good reason for doing so. . . . The need to consider and articulate reasons for departing from equality would help the parties and the court to focus on the need to ensure the absence of discrimination’

Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead Lord Hoffmann Lord Cooke of Thorndon Lord Hope of Craighead Lord Hutton
Times 31-Oct-2000, Gazette 09-Nov-2000, [2000] 3 WLR 1571, [2000] UKHL 54, [2001] 1 All ER 1, (2000) 2 FLR 981, [2001] 1 AC 596, [2000] 3 FCR 555, [2001] Fam Law 12
House of Lords, Bailii
Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 25
England and Wales
AppliedPiglowska v Piglowski HL 24-Jun-1999
When looking to the needs of parties in a divorce, there is no presumption that both parties are to be left able to purchase alternative homes. The order of sub-clauses in the Act implies nothing as to their relative importance. Courts should be . .
CriticisedPage v Page CA 1981
In an ancillary relief application, there was enough capital to provide adequately for both husband and wife.
Held: When considering the needs and obligations of the parties a broad view could be taken: (Ormrod LJ) ‘In a case such as this . .
CitedDart v Dart CA 2-Jul-1996
A strictly mathematical approach to calculating ancillary relief can be inappropriate in large sum cases. The statutory jurisdiction has to provide for all applications for ancillary financial relief, from the poverty stricken to the . .
CitedDuxbury v Duxbury CA 1987
Mr and Mrs Duxbury had been married for 22 years. When, at the end of their marriage, their financial affairs came before the court under the provisions of sections 23 and 24 of the 1973 Act, each wanted a clean break. By the standards of the day, . .
CitedO’D v O’D CA 1976
When considering an application for ancillary relief by a wife, the court should consider the wife’s position, ‘not from the narrow point of ‘need’, but to ascertain her reasonable requirements.’ . .
CitedPorter v Porter CA 1969
In ancillary relief applications, the discretionary powers enable the court to take into account ‘the human outlook of the period in which they make their decisions’. In the exercise of these discretions ‘the law is a living thing moving with the . .
CitedConran v Conran FD 14-Jul-1997
In deciding financial settlement, the court can consider contribution made by the Wife through her own special skills to the husband’s business. One could not sensibly fit an allowance for contribution into an analysis of a wife’s needs. That would . .
CitedPreston v Preston CA 1982
The court set out a series of principles applicable in ancillary relief cases where the resources exceeded the strict needs of the parties, including that the court should not make allowance for a spouse’s desire to be able to leave a sum to her . .
CitedHaldane v Haldane PC 1977
(New Zealand) The court considered how under the New Zealand legislation for ancillary rlief, the court was to deal with property inherited by one party to the marriage: ‘Initially a gift or bequest to one spouse only is likely to fall outside the . .

Cited by:
CitedMcFarlane v McFarlane; Parlour v Parlour CA 7-Jul-2004
Appeals were made against orders for periodical payments made against high earning husbands. The argument was that if the case of White had decided that capital should be distributed equally, the same should apply also to income.
Held: The . .
CitedElizabeth Adams v Julian James Lewis (Administrator of the Estate of Frank Adams dec) ChD 26-Jan-2001
The widow’s claim under the Act was contested by three daughters where the widow received a specific legacy and the will gave trustees a power to apply any part of the residue during the lifetime of the widow to provide and maintain a suitable . .
CitedCowan v Cowan CA 14-May-2001
When considering the division of matrimonial assets following a divorce, the court’s duty was, within the context of the rules set down by the Act, to impose a fair settlement according to the circumstances. Courts should be careful not to make . .
CitedMoorhead v Moorhead ChNI 11-Jan-2002
The deceased’s widow complained that her husband’s will had not made proper provision for her as was required by the order which ‘ In the case of a spouse reasonable financial provision means such financial provision as it would be reasonable in all . .
CitedLambert v Lambert CA 14-Nov-2002
The parties appealed an order for the division of the family’s 20 million pound fortune on divorce. The husband argued that his special contribution to the creation of the wealth meant that he should receive a greater share.
Held: The Act gave . .
CitedSorrell v Sorrell FD 29-Jul-2005
The parties contested ancillary relief on their divorce. The marriage had been very long, and the assets were very substantial. The husband contended that these assets represented an exceptional contribution on his part.
Held: In this case an . .
CitedG v G and Another FdNI 25-Oct-2003
There had been a long but argumentative marriage, and the parties disputed distribution of the assets on an ancillary relief application.
Held: The husband could not claim to discount shareholdings as a minority shareholding where he also . .
CitedMiller v Miller; M v M (Short Marriage: Clean Break) CA 29-Jul-2005
The parties contested ancillary relief where there had been only a short marriage, but where here were considerable family assets available for division. The wife sought to rely upn the husband’s behaviour to counter any argument as to the shortness . .
CitedWall v Wall CA 27-Nov-2002
The wife sought permision to appeal against an ancillary relief order, relying on Lambert v Lambert, and saying that she had not received a fair hearing.
Held: Permission could only be granted if the court thought there was a real chance of . .
CitedCharman v Charman CA 20-Dec-2005
The court considered orders to third parties abroad to produce docments for use in ancillary relief proceedings. The husband had built up considerable assets within an offshore discretionary trust. The court was asked whether these were family . .
CitedFielden, Graham (Executors of Cunliffe deceased) v Cunliffe CA 6-Dec-2005
The will was executed anticipating the marriage to the respondent, leaving assets on discretionary trusts for the responent and various family members and others. She had come to work for the deceased as his housekeeper, but later they came to . .
CitedMiller 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 . .
CitedM 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 . .
CitedS v S (Divorce: Distribution of assets) FD 10-Nov-2006
The reference in White v White to the need for a judge in ancillary relief applications always to refer back to the yardstick of equal distribution of all the assets did not mean that the judge had to include in such calculations non-matrimonial . .
CitedStack v Dowden HL 25-Apr-2007
The parties had cohabited for a long time, in a home bought by Ms Dowden. After the breakdown of the relationship, Mr Stack claimed an equal interest in the second family home, which they had bought in joint names. The House was asked whether, when . .
CitedHaines v Hill and Another CA 5-Dec-2007
On the divorce, the husband was ordered to transfer his share in the house to the wife. On his bankruptcy shortly after, the order was confirmed. After the wife sold the property at a profit, the trustee in bankruptcy applied to set the transfer . .
CitedB v B (Ancillary relief: Distribution of assets) CA 19-Mar-2008
The wife appealed an ancillary relief order for equal division on the basis that the judge had failed to allow for the fact that most of the assets had been brought to the marriage by her.
Held: Her appeal succeeded. All the assets at the . .
CitedJudge v Judge and others CA 19-Dec-2008
The wife appealed against an order refusing to set aside an earlier order for ancillary relief in her divorce proeedings, arguing that it had been made under a mistake. The sum available for division had had deducted an expected liabiliity to the . .
MentionedAgbaje v Akinnoye-Agbaje SC 10-Mar-2010
The parties had divorced in Nigeria, but the former wife now sought relief in the UK under section 10 of the 194 Act. The wife said that she lived here, but the order made in Nigeria was severely detrimental requiring her either to live here in . .
CitedRadmacher (Formerly Granatino) v Granatino SC 20-Oct-2010
The parties, from Germany and France married and lived at first in England. They had signed a pre-nuptial agreement in Germany which would have been valid in either country of origin. H now appealed against a judgment which bound him to it, . .
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 . .
CitedS v AG (Financial Remedy: Lottery Prize) FD 14-Oct-2011
The court considered how to treat a lottery win of andpound;500,000 in the context of an ancillary relief application on a divorce.
Held: The answers in such cases must be fact specific. ‘In the application of the sharing principle (as opposed . .
CitedNG v SG FD 9-Dec-2011
The court considered what to do when it was said that a party to ancillary relief proceedings on divorce had failed to make proper disclosure of his assets. H appealed against an award of a capital sum in such proceedimngs.
Held: . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.159088