Financial claim dispute for a civil-partnered couple

8th March 2015 by

 

In March 2012 family lawyers in Brighton and throughout the UK were interested to hear of the case regarding the financial claim of a homosexual couple who had undergone civil-partnership dissolution.

Family lawyers for one partner claimed that financial settlements for civil-partnered couples should not be calculated in the same way as for heterosexual couples undergoing divorce and this caused debate among the gay community and lawyers alike.

Circumstances of the civil-partnership dissolution dispute

The couple, a financial analyst (L) and an actor (G), had been in a relationship for 11 years. They undertook a civil-partnership agreement; however, seven months later, in 2008, the couple separated.

L was employed as a financial analyst, earning around £390,000 per year at the time of the court hearings. His former partner was an actor who had spent the major part of the lifespan of the relationship as homemaker.

In the first instance, the family court heard that the couple had joint assets valued at around £4 million. This being comprised of a cottage, purchased by both parties and valued at around £900,000, plus a flat in Docklands, London which had been originally bought by L in 1997, before they became a couple. The Docklands flat was valued at £2.4 million having originally been purchased for £650,000.

The court heard that G had come to the relationship with around £40,000 and, while working sporadically as an actor, had been able to earn around £100,000 per year. However, his greater contribution to the relationship had been in creating a home for the couple and making improvements to the London flat.

When calculating the settlement, the judge ruled that G should receive a £1.7 million, having attributed to him a share of the increase in value of the London flat.

The appeal

L disagreed with this decision and his family law team argued at the Court of Appeal that the judge’s ruling had been “bizarre” and “flawed”.

L’s barrister said, “This was of course a civil partnership, rather than a marriage, and although exactly the same principles apply, it is a simple truth that in homosexual relationships it is more likely that the couple will not have children, and that they will therefore each continue to pursue their careers throughout the partnership.”

He suggested that the agreed settlement which would see G receive around £28,000 per year to meet his needs should not have applied as, unlike a marriage where children were involved, both partners had maintained their own careers throughout the lifetime of the relationship and that a more suitable financial settlement amount should be around £620,000.

However, G’s barrister argued that L’s terms for a fair settlement were “inconceivable” and he cited many conversations that the couple had engaged in relating to the London flat as being a long-term savings plan for them and as “our pension”.

Healys’ family law solicitors can help in civil-partnership dissolution

If you are undergoing dissolution of a civil partnership and require representation in a financial claim, Healys’ family lawyers in Brighton and London can help.

Alternatively, you may be about to enter a civil-partnership and wish to help protect your assets in the event of a dissolution by drawing up a pre-civil partnership agreement.

In either circumstance, Healys is here to help and can offer advice and representation for same-sex couples.

To speak in confidence to a family lawyer in Brighton please call 01273 685 888 or email an enquiry to family@healys.com

Alternatively the family law team in London can be reached on 020 7822 4000. We look forward to helping you.