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Having a new partner will affect your divorce settlement

A senior judge commented that anyone divorcing their spouse may suffer financially if they have already moved on to another relationship prior to the divorce being finalised. His comments followed on from a case he was judging in the High Court where a journalist was divorcing her estranged husband, who was from a wealthy family. However, the journalist was already in a new relationship and her new partner was in the process of purchasing a house.
As a result of this, Mr Justice Mostyn ruled that she was entitled to far less in her divorce settlement than he would have given her had she been single and not in a relationship with someone else.
He reasoned that although her new relationship, which had been on-going for nine months, was not serious enough for her to move in with him to his new house, it was clearly serious and that this type of relationship was a ‘fly in the ointment’ when it came to assessing her financial requirements.
The judge reasoned that if the woman did cohabit with her new partner shortly after a settlement based on her being single, that her ex-husband would likely feel indignant. On the other hand, if their relationship did not last or turn into a permanent partnership, she could be left financially struggling, so there was a fine balance to find.
There is some sympathy with this difficult position within legal practice. However, strong disagreement with this stance is also being voiced suggesting that no relationship short of marriage should be factored in when making an assessment of need in a divorce settlement.
In addition, the new ruling may in fact increase the levels of animosity within divorce cases, with the need to demonstrate that one of the parties is in a new relationship, so their settlement can be reduced.
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