Couples face record 59-week wait for a divorce

Separated couples are facing a record wait to get divorced as a result of regional divorce centres trying to process a backlog of older cases, according to The Law Gazette.

The Ministry of Justice published quarterly statistics covering January to March this year, showing the average time from petition to decree absolute is 59 weeks.

The ministry says the figures ‘represent the highest figures so far for the periods covered by this bulletin and is a result of divorce centres processing a backlog of older cases.’

The Law Gazette reported that Jo Edwards, head of family at Mayfair firm Forsters, said,

“For years we have been warning that the system is almost at breaking point. It is now clear that the effect of legal aid cuts, lack of funding for signposting alternatives to court and swaths of court closures across the country, has been profound. People are issuing applications in higher numbers than ever before and the courts soaking up the work of the hundreds that have been closed are swamped. As the president of the family division has recently said, the pressure on all those working in the system is immense and taking its toll.”


New divorce law could lead to ‘spike’ in divorces

Justice secretary David Gauke has said a new law could lead to a ‘spike’ in divorces, but the rate is ultimately like to “remain much the same.”

Mr Gauke said people were holding off until the law changed leading to an increase “in the waiting list.”

Mr Gauke added that it was vital the reforms were made to end the divorce “blame game.”

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill removes the need, in England and Wales, to find fault in order to start proceedings immediately.

The bill was approved by MPs at its second reading.

Mr Gauke told the Commons current rules prevent couples from separating “if they have grown apart” unless they have the means to live apart for two years.

He also said a change in the law would help in situations where there is one abusive partner, but the other does not want to raise these issues in court.




Divorce law shake-up proposed in Commons

Legislation aimed at reducing “mudslinging” between divorcing couples in England and Wales has been proposed in the Commons.

The government says the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill is the biggest shake-up of divorce laws in 50 years.

At present, one spouse must allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour by the other for divorce proceedings to start straight away.

If the bill passes, spouses will only have to state that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This can be a joint statement.

The government says the bill has cross-party support and hopes its passage through Parliament will be smooth.

Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “Marriage will always be a vitally important institution in society, but when a relationship breaks down it cannot be right that the law adds fuel to the fire by incentivising couples to blame each other.

“By removing the unnecessary mudslinging the current process can needlessly rake up, we’ll make sure the law plays its part in allowing couples to move on as amicably and constructively as possible.”



Divorcee awaits ruling in multimillion-pound court fight with ex-partner

An American divorcee is waiting for a judge’s ruling on the latest round of a High Court fight over millions of pounds worth of property with a former partner.

Mandy Gray, 50, is suing New Zealander Hamish Hurley, 46, after ending a six-year relationship.

They are arguing over the ownership of a “collection of supercars”, a villa in Italy and a farm in New Zealand.

Mr Justice Lavender analysed preliminary arguments about whether or not the fight should be staged in England at a High Court hearing in London.

He is expected to produce a ruling in the near future.

Mr Hurley, who lives in New Zealand, said he was not “domiciled in England” when with Ms Gray and a judge in England should not analyse the dispute.

Ms Gray, who lives in London, said Mr Hurley was domiciled in England “and only be sued here.”

The judge heard the car collection at the centre of the dispute was worth several million pounds and included Ferraris, Porsches and McLarens.

Lawyers representing Ms Gray said she bought the assets at the centre of the dispute.

Ms Gray has described Mr Hurley as a “gold-digger, par excellence” and said he subjected her to “emotional and mental abuse” and “on a number of occasions’” assaulted her.


Jewish man says he is being discriminated against divorce payout

A Jewish man claims he is being discriminated against because of his religious beliefs in a ‘very acrimonious’ divorce from his estranged wife.

Alan Moher, 54, was ordered to hand over a £1.6million lump sum to wife Caroline, 46, by the Family Court as well as £1,850 per month in maintenance payments until he grants her a ‘Get’ – a document that officially ends a marriage under Jewish law.

Mr Moher, however, claims a Get must be granted ‘freely’ and only when financial ties between a couple are ended, adding the maintenance payments would therefore invalidate the religious divorce.

The couple who have three children, split up in 2016 after 21 years together.

Mrs Moher said the Get would be valid because it would immediately end the monthly payments thus cut off financial ties between them, meaning there is ‘no good reason to withhold it.’

Mr Moher is fighting to get the Family Court ruling overturned claiming it has ‘trapped’ him in the marriage and will leave him paying her maintenance ‘indefinitely.’

He further argued the £1.6million payout was ‘unfair’ because it was 85 per cent of the family’s wealth.

Lawyers for Mrs Moger say the lump sum was fair because the husband had ‘failed to provide adequate disclosure’ of his finances.

Lawyers for Mr Moher said,

‘The phraseology of the order prevents the husband from issuing a Get.

‘It is something which has to be given freely, after financial ties between the parties have come to an end.

‘The imposition of a financial sanction on a party, in a bid to force them to grant a Get, invalidates the Get under religious law.

‘The husband is thus left in a position where, due to the element of compulsion placed on him by the order of the court, he is unable to grant a valid Get.

‘The judge’s order means that, after paying the lump sum in full, the husband is obliged to continue to pay spousal periodical payments to the wife in the sum of £1,850 per month – until he gives her a Get.’

However Sally Harrison QC, for Mrs Moher, said, ‘It was reasonable for the judge to make an order which enabled the wife to be supported financially until such time as the Get was obtained.

‘As the judge made clear, the order would be discharged once the Get was given and there was no good reason for the husband to withhold the Get.

‘The husband was invited to give the standard undertaking in relation to the Get. He declined to do so.

‘In such circumstances, it was open to the court to consider how to enforce compliance. Any difficulty would be of the husband’s own making.’


Judge rules boy to live with father after mother has ‘hateful feelings’ for father

A judge has ruled that an eight-year-old boy should leave his mother and live with his father.

Judge Lloyd North was told the boy was being influenced by his mother’s “hateful feelings” towards his father and said the boy would be exposed to “significant emotional harm” if he remained with his mother.

A psychologist said the mother portrayed the boy’s father negatively which resulted in the child identifying with the views she expressed.

Judge Lloyd North decided the boy would enjoy a positive relationship with both parents if he lived with his father but continued to see his mother.

The parents separated several years ago and had been in dispute over their son’s care for much of his life.

Italian Fashion Tycoon in UK divorce battle

An Italian fashion tycoon and his wife are in the midst of a legal battle in an attempt to settle their multi-million pound divorce in Britain.

Ilaria Giusti, 53, is asking the UK courts to rule on her divorce from shoe designer Ferruccio Ferragamo, despite moving here five years after splitting from her husband.

However, Mr Ferragamo says judges in Italy should make the decisions instead.

Lord Justice Moylan and Lord Justice Baker, who had overseen a Court of Appeal hearing in London earlier this month, said they preferred the argument put forward by Mr Ferragamo’s lawyers.

They said judges in England should ‘defer to the Italian court’ and let Italian judges decide whether they ‘remained seised’ of proceedings.

However, the two appeal judges also said Ms Giusti’s English bid should not be thrown out.

The couple married in 2004. The marriage had broken down after about eight years. They have been estranged since 2012.


Estranged wife of German businessman tells divorce court judge she can’t find a hairdresser in England

The estranged wife of a German businessman has told a divorce court judge how she cannot find a “very good hairdresser” in England even though she moved to London nearly two years ago.

Clarissa Pierburg said she feels compelled to visit a hairdresser in Dusseldorf, Germany.

The problem was revealed to Mr Justice Moor after being embroiled in a dispute with Jurgen Pierburg following the breakdown of their 35-year marriage.

Mr and Mrs Pierburg are contesting where they should divorce.

Mr Justice Moor is overseeing a trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Mr Justice Moor heard that both Mr and Mrs Pierburg are German and had lived in Switzerland.


Mrs Pierburg, now in her 60s, says she now lives in London and wants to divorce in England.

Mr Pierburg, however, wants to divorce in Germany.

The judge heard that the marriage broke down after Mr Pierburg admitted having an affair in late 2016.

UK court ends marriage of Prince Louis of Luxembourg and Princess Tessy

A UK divorce court judge has ended the marriage of Prince Louis of Luxembourg and Princess Tessy.

Mr Justice MacDonald pronounced a decree absolute at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

A ruling on the division of money and property was published by Mr Justice MacDonald four months ago following a trial.

Mr Justice MacDonald said Prince Louis and Princess Tessy could be named in media coverage of the case, but placed limits on what could be reported.

The judge heard that the couple began a relationship in 2004, married in 2006 and had two children.

Mr Justice MacDonald decided that Princess Tessy and the children could live in a property the couple had shared when married.

He said the prince would pay the princess “nominal” maintenance and pay child maintenance of £4,000 a year per child.

Businessman ordered to give his ex £25m

An Omani businessman worth more than £300million has been ordered to give his ex-wife £25million after she argued she needed a £400,000-a-year for holidays and a further £60k for pocket money.

The Family Division of the High Court in London heard the case of Talal Al Zawawi, 48 and his ex-wife Leila Hammoud, 36.

Ms Hammoud said she needed £400,000 a year for holidays for her and their three children, more than £60,000 a year to buy jewellery, more than £60,000 a year ‘pocket money’, £60,000 a year for ‘spectator events’ and £24,000 a year to buy shoes.

Mr Justice Holman concluded that about £21 million would meet her needs and about £3 million would be suitable for the children’s needs.

The calculations included more than £5million for a house and £75,000 for a car.

The judge said Mr Al Zawawi and Ms Hammoud could be named in media reports but he said their children should not be named.

Mr Justice Holman highlighted that under Omani law Ms Hammoud would get no financial provision and said it was right that she should make a cash claim in England.