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Judicial Mistake in DIY Divorce Settlement Rapidly Corrected

When a husband and wife split up, they amicably decided that maintenance would be paid by the husband to the wife for five years and agreed between themselves the main details of their other financial arrangements, leaving only some aspects to go before the court.

However, when the financial settlement order was handed down by the court, it allowed only that the payments would 'cease on the first of the following events: (i) the death of either party, (ii) the remarriage of the applicant wife and (iii) further order of the court'. The judge involved had simply failed to take into account the couple's agreement.

The husband, who had not been legally represented at the hearing, went back to court to have the order restricted such that payments would end in 2019.

The Family Court judge immediately agreed that the judge in the District Court had 'failed to take into account the highly relevant factor that an agreement had been reached on the term of the maintenance order and that his resultant analysis of the issue was plainly inadequate'. He also commented that 'it is highly regrettable that people of such modest means should have been caught up in this expensive and flawed process'.

It is highly unlikely that this case would have had to go to court a second time had the husband been legally represented at the first hearing, as his solicitor would have pointed out the limitation agreement.

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