Weekly Family Law Update January 14, 2021

A restraint order, a rent demand and ex-wives’ incomes

Court restricts father’s right to make further applications

The High Court has extended an order restraining a father from making further applications to the court regarding his children.

In November 2018 Mrs Justice Knowles made an Extended Civil Restraint Order (‘ECRO’) with respect to the father, who had made seven applications for permission to appeal a variety of decisions made with respect to his two younger daughters, now aged 20 years and 14 years. She refused all those applications as being totally without merit and decided that, in the circumstances, the making of an ECRO was the only way in which the court could control the father’s litigation conduct. The ECRO meant that the father could not make any further applications in relation to his children, without first obtaining permission from Mrs Justice Knowles.

The ECRO was due to expire on the 25th of November 2020. Accordingly, Mrs Justice Knowles issued directions inviting the father to provide written submissions as to whether she should extend the term of the ECRO and, if so, for how long. She issued those directions as, since the making of the ECRO, the father had made seven more applications which fell within the remit of the ECRO. All those applications had been refused, and at least three of them had been determined as being totally without merit.

The father made no submissions and Mrs Justice Knowles decided that there was good reason to apprehend persistent ‘vexatious litigation’ by the father in the future. Accordingly, the ECRO was extended to November 2022.

Husband demands rent from former wife

A husband who was divorced in 2016 has demanded that his ex-wife pay him £600,000 in back-dated rent, in relation to her occupation of the former matrimonial home.

Kerim Derhalli and Jayne Richardson Derhalli had lived in a five-bedroomed house in Kensington, which was owned by Mr Derhalli. However, Mr Derhalli moved out in 2014.

In 2016 the couple agreed a divorce settlement, whereby Mrs Derhalli was to receive an £11.5 million settlement. She received an initial £6.5 million and was due the balance when the house was sold. However, the sale was delayed in the difficult post-Brexit referendum property market, and this led to Mr Derhalli claiming rent from Mrs Derhalli, who continued to live in the property.

Mrs Derhalli refused to pay rent, claiming that she had the right to live in the property rent-free, until it was sold. She continued to live in the property until it was eventually sold in 2019.

Mr Derhalli took the matter to the court, claiming £600,000 rent, at a rate of £5000 a week, for the period during which Mrs Derhalli had occupied the property.

Last year the High Court ruled in favour of Mrs Derhalli. Mr Derhalli has appealed against that decision to the Court of Appeal, claiming that it was ‘absurd’. The Court of Appeal will give their decision on the appeal at a later date.

Wives’ incomes drop by a third on divorce

Women are likely to see their household incomes fall by a third in the year following their divorce, almost twice as much as men (33% women vs. 18%), according to research from Legal & General Retail Retirement.

The research showed that women see their annual income fall by almost twice as much as men following divorce; that women are significantly more likely to waive rights to a partner’s pension as part of a divorce (28% women vs 19%); and that women are more likely to face financial struggle post-divorce (31% women vs 21%) and worry about the impact on their retirement (16% women vs 10%).

Legal & General say that there are many reasons driving this disparity, one being that women are typically paid less, whilst men who divorce are far more likely to have been the primary breadwinner in the relationship (74% men vs. 18%).

Sara McLeish, chief executive officer of Legal & General financial advice, said:

“When going through a divorce, people are understandably keen to come to a settlement and move on, but our research indicates that, too frequently, people overlook the mutual value of their pensions; this could have a particularly harsh financial impact on women.

“This is even more important when we consider that women, typically, live longer than men, so their savings need to stretch over a longer period of time.”