This makes a welcome change from the position where one parent takes everything and the other is left to find accommodation in unsavoury areas which are then claimed to be unsuitable for children.
Unfortunately the court still refers to the 'primary carer' and their 'obvious needs', but it has at last attached importance to the 'other parent' having accommodation where their children can not only stay, but 'enjoy' staying!
Before Lord Justice Nourse, Lord Justice Hutchison and Lord Justice Thorpe
[Judgment October 2 1997 - Court of Appeal]
It was a paramount consideration. particularly where children were involved, when granting financial relief as laid down in section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, as substituted by section 3 of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984, to endeavour to stretch the capital sums available so as to cover the needs of each of the parties for a home of his or her own.
The Court of Appeal so stated on October 2 when allowing a father's appeal in ancillary relief proceedings by varying an order made by Mr Justice Johnson in November 1996 to the extent of increasing the amount of a lump sum award from £40,000 to £77,500.
Miss Christina Morris who did not appear below, for the husband; Miss Ann Hussey for the wife.
LORD JUSTICE THORPE said that it was one of the paramount considerations in applying the section 25 criteria to endeavour to stretch what was available to cover the need of each for a home, particularly where there were young children involved.
Obviously the primary carer needed whatever was available to make a main home for the children, but it was of importance, albeit of lesser importance, that the other parent should have a home of his own where the children could enjoy their contact time with him.
In any case where there was, by stretch and a degree of risk-taking, the possibility of a division to enable both to rehouse themselves, that was an exceptionally important consideration and one which would almost invariably have a decisive impact on the outcome.
Here the judge had the opportunity to make a division which would just about enable each to rehouse. It might require some sacrifice on the part of the wife' s family and some burden of future mortgage.
On the husband s side it would entail taking advantage of his ability to defer the Law Society's legal aid charge in respect of his costs. But those were the sort of methods to which the court regularly had to have recourse in those cases where the money was only just enough. This was just such a case.
Solicitors: Abrahams Dresden; May May & Merrimans.
Last updated - 20 October 1997