When a couple divorced in early 2017, the financial agreement made included the provision that the wife should be allowed to remain in the first-floor flat she occupied until completion of the sale of the ground-floor flat of the same property, which she and her husband owned jointly, or until 24 October 2017 at the latest. The plan was that the sale of the ground-floor flat would realise a very significant sum and this would be paid to the wife.
The wife had significant money problems, despite also having received payments totalling nearly £250,000 from her former husband. In the event, the property had not been sold by the date specified, as a result of which she did not have the expected sum of money. She refused to leave the premises, and when solicitors’ letters failed to persuade her to go, her husband went to court to force her removal.
The judge commented that ‘the way the order is structured is that she took the risk of having to leave before she got access to her capital sum’ and that she had ‘plenty of time to sort that problem out and she must have known as the months passed approaching 24 October 2017 that the ground-floor flat was not going to sell in time for her departure…and, therefore, she would have to make some other arrangements’.
In November, the husband made an application for his wife to be committed to prison for failure to comply with a valid court order.
The court ruled that unless she moved out within 28 days of the hearing, she would be sent to prison for two months. In addition, she was ordered to pay her husband’s legal costs of £24,000 from her share of the proceeds of the property when sold.
Says Harriet Killeen “Failing to comply with court orders is a risky strategy at the best of times and can lead to more than financial costs. For advice on the best way to deal with any legal issue, contact us.”
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