Family Law

Family Law Newsletter #3102.12.19

Issue #31 of Spire Barristers' Family Law Newsletter: edited by Ashley Lord and Naomi Hartridge; news and Case Reviews by Georgina Dalton. Georgina was recently successful in her application for pupillage commencing in September 2020.

Articles from around the web, Legislation updates and Case Updates from Care Proceedings and Financial Remedy matters. Subscribe to receive Family Law Newsletter notifications or email us to give us any feedback.

‘Calls for research into press reports on family law cases’

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‘The Children Act 30 years later’

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‘Abuse of children based on faith rises by a third’

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‘Figures show nearly 700 children identified daily as being at risk of domestic abuse’

Read More

Updates and Guidance

Practice guidance: placements in unregistered children’s homes in England or unregistered care home services in Wales

Financial remedies courts: Good practice protocol

Sir James Munby’s Keynote speech at Coram Permanence Event – Nov 2019

Case Summaries

Potanin v Potanina [2019] EWHC 2956 

High court: Mr Justice Cohen, 8th November 2019

Mrs Potanina (W) and Mr Potanin (H) were both Russian nationals. The couple separated in 2007 and eventually divorced in 2014. W claims that under Russian law she should have received an equal share of H’s assets whether held in their own name or beneficially which she did not.

In light of the decisions of the Russian court and what W considered to be a serious injustice to her, W applied for relief in England pursuant to Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984. W’s initial application was made on an ex parte basis and leave was granted with a direction that H could apply to have that leave set aside. H duly applied to have leave set aside.

At the hearing to set aside, heard over two days in October 2019, H contended that Mr Justice Cohen had been misled as to factual matters when the matter appeared before him ex parte. Having considered both parties positions the court agreed that there had been factual misrepresentations about the amount of money W had received and about her connections to England. Further, the court was satisfied that it had been misled in relation to the Russian litigation, such facts upon which the court considered it had been misled included that it had not been told the Russian court’s had adjudicated upon the purported date of separation (W contended 2013, but H had contended (and the Russian court had found) that the separation had been taken effect in 2007).

Most importantly the judge stated that Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 and its legislative purpose had not been considered properly. The judge had been misled in granting leave to apply for financial relief, if he had had the full picture before him, he would not have granted leave. Therefore, the court was satisfied that W’s application had to be set aside and determined afresh.

In determining whether England was an appropriate venue for the application, the judge found that neither W nor H had any significant connection with England during their marriage. Cohen J stated that this was a case in which the spouse was seeking to take advantage of what is a more generous approach to her claims than she has been able to achieve in her home country. The court further agreed with Counsel for H that if this claim was permitted to proceed, there would effectively be no limit to divorce tourism.

Accordingly, W’s application for leave was refused. It is crucial to note that Counsel for W indicated W’s dissatisfaction with the court’s decision and expressed an intention to appeal (or, at least to seek leave to appeal), that said, the court observed that this case should not be taken as the final word on the matter.

Full Judgment