Ex-wife awarded all assets

A recent case has highlighted the potential consequences of failing to provide financial support to a former spouse and children. Essam Aly, a hospital consultant, had been ordered to transfer all of the couple’s assets worth in the region of £550,000 to his former wife.

There are a number of specifics that had a major influence on this case. In 2011 Mr Aly left his wife and children and moved to Bahrain. He did not pay any child maintenance or financial support to his family. As Mr Aly was beyond the reach of the British authorities, it was argued by his former wife that there was a good chance that he would never provide financial support.

The Court agreed that Mr Aly was a “serial defaulter” and therefore his former wife should receive all of the couples’ assets. The Judge commented that:

“looking to the future, there was no expectation that she could look to him for any future payment of maintenance and it was therefore necessary for her to achieve an award representing effectively most of the capital assets”.

Mr Aly appealed on the grounds of “substantive unfairness”. It was argued on behalf of Mr Aly that the initial ruling did not take into consideration his needs. It was added that Mr Aly and his new wife had now moved to the UK. However, the arguments made on behalf of Mr Aly failed to have any influence with the court. The appeal judges were satisfied that Mr Aly’s actions demonstrated an unwillingness to provide support to his former wife and children. Therefore, it was considered that the initial Judge’s conclusion that there was no realistic expectation of further support from Mr Aly was correct to award the marital assets to the former wife for the benefit of the children.

It was emphasised by Mrs Aly’s lawyer that the decision was based on fairness rather than equality. She explained “in this case, equality of division of assets was not the primary concern; the Lord Judge McFarlane had to give first consideration to the welfare of the children”.

However, where a father shows a responsible attitude to child support it is unlikely that a similar order would be made.

Nevertheless, the decision is to be given careful consideration for any absent parent who is trying to avoid responsibility for paying maintenance in respect of children. The case highlights that if the Court see no maintenance will be forthcoming, the absent parent is likely to lose more of their assets.

If you have any issues regarding spousal or child maintenance, for a free no-obligation discussion, please call our family law experts on 01244 616611 or email.