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A v R (financial remedy: costs) [2021] EWFC B35

4th July 2021

Judgment: The parties married in 2004, separated in 2015 and the decree absolute of divorce was granted in 2019. The three children lived with the mother and had only indirect contact with the father. DJ Graham Keating found that their housing needs were being met, albeit imperfectly, by living in the former matrimonial home (FMH). He considered whether the income disparities and needs justified spousal maintenance. Although the mother had not been transparent about her resources, and the parties' litigation history strongly suggested that a clean break and the avoidance of subsequent litigation was very desirable, the mother would be responsible for the care of the children, for housing, feeding, schooling and clothing them. The district judge decided to grant the mother a 48.9% share of the father's 1995 pension, made no order for spousal maintenance, and left the beneficial interest of two properties with the mother and one with the father. He ordered the sale of the FMH, but this would not take effect provided that the mother secured the father's release from the mortgage, and paid him all costs awards from these proceedings, plus interest. If that were done within two years, the FMH need not be sold and the father would transfer his legal and beneficial interest in it to her. The father sought his costs of the FDR, and relied on a schedule of costs totalling £8,468. The district judge ordered that the mother should pay £7,388. The father also claimed for costs for the remainder of the proceedings. The district judge, quoting Mostyn J in OG v AG [2020] EWFC 52 ("if, once the financial landscape is clear, you do not openly negotiate reasonably, then you will likely suffer a penalty in costs") found that each of the factors in FPR 28.3(7)(a), (b), (d) and (e) justified an award of costs in favour of the father, the mother's evidence having been "elusive and evasive" as to her income. The mother was ordered to pay £9,000 towards the father's costs since the FDR.