Posted by Simon Bassett, Partner
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Judge orders wife to sell house to pay estranged husband’s debts
A wife has been ordered to sell her £2.5million home so her ‘reckless and irresponsible’ estranged husband can pay off his debts.
The couple split acrimoniously last year, with the husband since spending £346,000 as he enjoyed holidays to New York and the south of France.
Debts included a combination of mortgage, legal costs, tax bills and other liabilities.
Although the court found that he was the one who had been primarily responsible for a number of these debts, the wife’s right to live in the matrimonial home was terminated and a judge granted him the right to sell the jointly-owned property to pay off money he owes.
It means his wife, with whom he has two young children in private schools, will have to move into rented accommodation.
The High Court in London said the sale would finally bring ‘financial sanity’ to the couple.
Senior Family Division judge Sir Nicholas Mostyn – who ruled the husband should be identified only as BR and his wife as VT – outlined their financial difficulties, including unpaid legal costs of more than £300,000.
When every outstanding debt has been paid they will be left with £50,000 each.
Mr Justice Mostyn described how BR – who earns £284,000 a year – and VT married in London in 1998, have a 14-year-old son at a top public school and a daughter aged 10 at an exclusive prep school in the capital.
They bought their North London home in 2012 with a £1.2million mortgage. They then spent more than £200,000 on refurbishments.
His wife originally agreed to sell the house but later changed her mind.
The judge said: “Notwithstanding the stark reality of these figures the wife persists in her resistance to a sale.
“I am very critical of both parties. The husband’s reckless and irresponsible conduct in spending such a large sum in the year of separation is indefensible.
“The wife is to be criticised for reneging on her clear agreement to sell and then sticking her head in the sand like an ostrich.”
Ordering the sale of the property, the judge said: “There is no alternative but that the home must be sold as soon as possible, and for this purpose the wife’s home rights must be terminated. Only in this way can the pressing debts, more importantly to HMRC, be paid and the revenue deficit eliminated.”
At Royds, our experienced family law department are able to advise on all aspects of the divorce process. We will work closely with clients to achieve the best possible outcome. For more information, please visit or contact Patrick Hart.