Divorcee Who Wouldn’t Budge Punished for Her Defiance

Divorcees who fail to co-operate can be hit hard in the pocket and even lose their liberty. In one case, an ex-wife who refused to budge from her £2 million former matrimonial home in defiance of a court order ended up with a seven-day prison sentence and an £80,000 legal costs bill.

The woman dug in her heels after her ex-husband obtained an order for the sale of the home they once shared and division of the proceeds, of which she was entitled to £650,000 as part of what was intended to be a clean break. However, she had refused to hand over keys to the property to her ex-husband, his lawyers or estate agents who wished to value and market it.

She was found in contempt of court by a judge but had vigorously resisted bailiffs who were sent to arrest her. She was ultimately sentenced to a week in jail. Before the Court of Appeal, she aired a number of complaints about the procedure followed and claimed that she had been unfairly treated.

In rejecting her appeal, the Court found that she had been playing cat and mouse with her ex-husband and the courts and had done everything in her power to delay the sale of her home. Ordering her to pay legal costs, the Court noted that she had already been afforded considerable latitude and that court orders had to be obeyed. There was no merit in any of her arguments.