English Divorce Courts Perceived as Generous to Dependants

Whether or not deserved, the English divorce courts have a worldwide reputation for their generosity to dependants and that often gives rise to jurisdictional skirmishing. In one case which illustrated the point, a businessman worth an estimated £48 million failed to deliver a knock-out blow to his ex-wife’s maintenance claim.

From impoverished beginnings as refugees from Kosovo, the ex-couple had made a fortune in the oil and commodities business in Slovenia. Following the breakdown of the relationship, the wife had made her home in Britain. The husband argued that her maintenance claim had already been conclusively dealt with in Slovenia, an EU member state, and that she would have to live with the consequences. On that basis, it was submitted that the English courts had no jurisdiction to consider the matter.

That argument failed before a family judge and the wife, who was habitually resident in England, was permitted to proceed with her claim. In rejecting the husband’s challenge to that decision, the Court of Appeal found that there had been no binding settlement or judicial decision in respect of the wife’s claim in Slovenia. She was thus entitled to have her case heard in England.