GN v MA: imagination vs practice in child support

maintenance

In GN v MA, (reported on this blog a few days ago), we see the most recent stage in a continuing application for child support under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989. The child in question is seven years old. His parents are not legally married. His father is resident abroad. Thus the only application the mother can make for child support for her son is under the above provision.

A court may make an order for child support in accordance with Paragraph 4 of Schedule 1, which states:

In deciding whether to exercise its powers under paragraph 1 or 2, and if so in what manner, the court shall have regard to all the circumstances including—

(a)the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each person mentioned in sub-paragraph (4) has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

(b)the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each person mentioned in sub-paragraph (4) has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

(c)the financial needs of the child;

(d)the income, earning capacity (if any), property and other financial resources of the child;

(e)any physical or mental disability of the child;

(f)the manner in which the child was being, or was expected to be, educated or trained.

That’s the background law. We will consider shortly how it has been exercised in this case, and consider whether it is appropriate to take into account the illegitimacy of that child into account – directly or indirectly – when arriving at the appropriate level of provision, despite the fact that legitimacy is no longer officially recognised in law.

First though, let’s rewind the clock back to 1996, when one case caused something of a stir in family law circles. Dart v Dart concerned a hugely wealthy American couple getting divorced in the English courts.

Their family wealth derived from making polystyrene cups. Mr Dart was estimated to be worth about £400 million and his wife, who had found herself wrong-footed and unable to litigate her case in Kentucky, put in a claim for a vast chunk of that wealth in accordance with her lifestyle and reasonable needs. Today she would stand a good chance of walking away with about £100million, but back then, when her case was fought by a QC with foresight named James Munby, he ended up on the receiving end of a severe judicial pasting as he boldly but unsuccessfully argued for a substantial slice of the husband’s wealth.

Mrs Dart was told to cut her cloth, and the eye watering budget she sought, hoping for a lump sum, was unceremoniously sliced up by the Judge. Her super-gilded lifestyle was held by the courts to have come to an end. There was no way on the court’s order that it could continue.

As Lord Justice Thorpe sitting in the Court of Appeal put it, apparently scarcely able to believe his ears, the QC’s arguments had challenged “the entire corpus of subsequent decisions in this court on …what are known as big money cases… in my judgment this is a hopeless submission.” Mrs Dart was awarded just £8.5 million and because she had rejected £10 million she was also ordered to pay her husband’s costs.

James Munby QC may have lost the battle but he subsequently won the war. His argument that she should be allowed to continue her sumptuous lifestyle proved prophetic. The judicial section of the House of Lords (soon to become the Supreme Court) chose a new and bolder interpretation of Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in their ruling on the case of White v White. In this way, without any change in the law, the jurisprudence changed, introducing a different approach to financial settlements on divorce. The principle of equal division became a starting point once reasonable needs were met in so-called ‘big money’ cases. Lower down the case ladder, the starting point for negotiations is also now 50/50 in most cases.

And as for that swashbuckling QC James Munby, daring to take on established practice, whatever became of him??

I was reminded of Dart v Dart when I read the recent ruling by Mr Justice Bodey in GN v MA. In this case, some £780,000 per annum child support had been requested by the mother, a fourfold increase on the current sum paid of £204,000 per annum. Her original case setting the bar had been to the Court of Appeal in 2013 was refused, and permission to the Supreme Court was also refused. Mr Justice Bodey refused this present application too.

Let’s start by saying, this is an eye watering amount of money for a seven year-old child. Entire families could happily live on £204,000 net of tax and in most cases I wouldn’t have troubled to argue otherwise. Ditto the £3.4m price of the home he lives in, which is held in a trust until he reaches 21.

But this isn’t one of those cases. Like Dart, it’s an exceptional, breathtaking case, one that requires a flight of imagination so bold that it actually surpasses Dart.

It’s not hard to discover the identity of these parties in this case. Their story has been plastered over the pages of many newspapers and it makes for some interesting legal reading, in earlier case law.

But of course I will respect the anonymity of this judgement, which does, after all, concern a child. But I will note that there are clues within the judgement: the reference to a box at Emirates stadium, the request for a box at Ascot races, a connection to a Middle Eastern Airline. This boy’s father, in his 50s, is not just wealthy but stonkingly, stupendously wealthy, a billionaire, and a senior member of a Middle Eastern royal family.

As the Judge stated:

“It is impossible to know the reality of his lifestyle, save to say that his family, the royal family, appears to rank pretty clearly among the super-rich and that as a senior member of that family he moves naturally within a world of opulence (the mother’s word) where there is effectively little if anything which he cannot have, or have the use of.”

Mr Dart was poor by comparison.

Think what that means: nothing – literally nothing – is beyond his means. Huge palaces, estates around the world, priceless artefacts, travel by the most opulent means possible – the reality of this man’s life is staggering. It actually defies the imagination. It is likely he will count the most powerful people in every country as a friend or acquaintance. His wife or wives and their children will literally want for nothing. Everything and anything they want, they will have. Middle Eastern queens and princesses lead gilded lifestyles – they never have to pay a bill of any kind whatsoever.

Now let’s turn to the mother. She was born into a well-off family but from a different Middle Eastern country. She and the child’s father went through an Islamic marriage ceremony in this country in 2007, which is not recognised in this country. Their child was born a year later. The parties never cohabited in the conventional sense, and after the birth the father has never troubled himself to set eyes on the boy or in fact had anything to do with him at all.

The mother has been left in financial circumstances which could not be more different from those of the father:-As the learned Judge records:

“She says she has no capital and it is not suggested that she has. Aside from the maintenance for C, she has no income.”

As we have seen, this mother isn’t considered legally married in this country. The result is that when child support ends, she will be left with no home and no money. This boy – presumably a putative prince himself, has on occasion even been left in terrible pain because his mother claimed she doesn’t have ready access to the funds needed to pay his dental bills. Shame on the both of them.

But is the level of the award correct?

The learned Judge says this:

“Unhappily the mother has a fervent belief that C and therefore she herself, by way of a carer’s allowance, should be allowed a vast income provision to enable C’s lifestyle to replicate that of the father; but almost without regard to the fact that he is a seven-year old growing up in London.”

He continues:

“In her statement of 25th November 2015, she still, for the third time, seeks a box at the Emirates and at Ascot for C, together with membership of Ascot and Wentworth golf clubs. This is even though her claims for boxes have been specifically dismissed. She still refers to needing a nanny/governess/house manager and a housekeeper. She seeks air travel for herself and C, first class return twice a year (admittedly with an airline in respect of which the father has connections) and for economy flights for a nanny/governess, until C completes his tertiary education.”

Is she so very wrong? If he can provide air travel simply by wave of a hand to a minion? Recognised children of this man will enjoy a gilded lifestyle, unimaginable to us from birth through to death, but this child will not, without appropriate provision made for him by the court. Why ever not?

I respectfully disagree with the continuous judicial approach to this case. Yes he is a young boy growing up in Central London. But I’m far from sure that is or should be the determining factor. Other young boys are growing up in Central London enjoying royal privilege and wealth as a result of their birthright – Prince George, for example, at Kensington Palace. But even his family’s vast royal wealth may not equal that of the seven year-old’s father.

Back in the 17th Century, King Charles II took what I feel is the right approach.

He treated his mistresses and their offspring royally. Louise de Kerouaille bore him a son, Charles Lennox, whom the King made Duke of Richmond. Lennox acquired Goodwood House, and today it is famous worldwide for its stunning racecourse – a racecourse heavily sponsored during the racing season, moreover, by Middle Eastern royalty.

We need a sea change in our approach similar in scale to Dart, ending the arbitrary distinction which, like it or not, does differentiate between one whose mother is legally married and another who is not.

There is far too much disparity between the lifestyles of the father’s legitimate offspring and this child. If taking a more balanced approach means upping the mother’s carer’s allowance, so be it. There is no reason this child should not properly share in the good fortune of his birth, and be proud of who he happens to be by reason of his birth. He is the innocent in all this- he had no control over the actions of his parents. He should not be constantly reminded that he is the son of a woman treated by his father and the law as a concubine.

Image by Bullion Vault via Flickr

 

Marilyn Stowe

The founder of Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known divorce lawyers. She retired from Stowe Family Law in 2017.

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27 comments

spinner - February 10, 2016 at 8:24am

It’s fairly common practise for wealthy Arab men to go to places like Egypt or India and “marry” in an Islamic ceremony a young female for a few months and then they divorce them and leave. Normally money is paid up front to the female or the females family for this to happen.

I suspect this is what has happened here as in they never cohabited or were legally married. The female has decided to carry the child to term which is obviously her choice but to suggest this child will ever be considered a Saudi Royal is pure fantasy, there will literally be hundreds of children who are born of Saudi Royal’s around the world and there will be some pecking order likely starting with children from females that they actually live with and play a role in bringing up the child.

All due respect to the female in this case, she saw a business opportunity, took it and is not trying to ride it for all it’s worth and good luck to her but she deserves no sympathy for the business decisions she has freely chosen to make and at £200k per year I think she’s done very well for herself but why on earth would she need a pension, surely her day job should pay for that out of her own endeavours or are we suggesting women’s job is now back to being mothers and housewives again.

Marilyn Stowe - February 10, 2016 at 9:24am

Dear Spinner
The marriage took place in England and I don’t believe he was Saudi.
I don’t believe carrying a child to term is unreasonable. To the contrary.
You have missed my point entirely and are reinforcing the concubine theme.
It is the child who concerns me. He happens to have a billionaire Royal as his father, one of the most powerful figures in the Middle East. This child is entitled to a standard of living commensurate with this. He doesn’t have it currently and I believe the law is taking the same sort of course as you for the same sort of reasons and it needs a clear change of direction.
The important issue here is providing appropriately for the resulting child, recognising exactly who he happens to be.
Regards
Marilyn

spinner - February 10, 2016 at 3:20pm

“The marriage took place in England and I don’t believe he was Saudi.” – As you state there was no marriage, it was a religious ceremony that wealthy Arab men use to allow them to set up temporary fixed price prostitution services in this country and elsewhere. I’m not knocking it what two consenting adults want to do with their time and their bodies is their business, maybe I’m jealous as it seems relatively easy money.

“I don’t believe carrying a child to term is unreasonable.” – Neither do I it’s her business.

“This child is entitled to a standard of living commensurate with this.” – I don’t agree, the child is entitled to a decent standard of living which £200k per year for the mother more than allows for. His fathers status or otherwise is not relevant as his father doesn’t want to know him so he’s done the honourable thing and decided to pay up and take responsibility for this females own decision.

Where your heading with all of this is that you are making females toxic for men and their future well being. I love women so don’t mistake me for some women hater, but what I do hate is the increasing interference of the English state and courts and it is way more than other countries in peoples personal private business. In this case what actual damage physical, mental or otherwise do you actually think the child will come to if his mother get’s £800k a year or £200k a year. I would suggest there is more damage done to the child by continually hounding the father to the point where he definitely doesn’t want anything to do with the situation than by now giving the full £800k this female wanted.

spinner - February 10, 2016 at 3:42pm

What is this female doing to raise money to pay for this child and herself apart from taking it’s father to court. Women in this country who have actually been properly married are now told they should be in part time work when their child is 7 and full time work when 11. There doesn’t seem to be any mention of what her responsibility to support her own child is, it’s all about the fathers money and what he has to provide. What a bad example to set the son or anyone other young girls, sleep with a rich man, get pregnant and have their child and you will be set for life. Isn’t this the exact opposite what we are trying to each young girls in this country, that they are equal and should think more of themselves than just baby making machines.

stitchedup - February 10, 2016 at 10:30am

If a child is entitled to a lifestyle commensurate to that of the father then a high proportion of children of divorced or separated men should be living in rat infested bed sits.

Otla - February 10, 2016 at 11:28am

All these cases show is that in little crappy England, we are extremely small-minded and still cannot move beyond the idea that a child is a commodity. The system of child maintenance in this nation of dummies is one of those things that shows our complete lack of imagination.

We need to get a lot more creative with how child support is handled.

First of all, it should be completely uncoupled from the number of nights the so-called PWC is in charge, and what might be called the revenge incentive. This has just caused extreme injustice, inequality and violence.

Second, those who earn below a certain threshold, and who are clearly struggling, should be charged accordingly, rather than some idiotic fixed rate that impoverishes them and means they cannot have a home in which to care for their children. Those who earn above a certain threshold should pay according to their means.

Third, child maintenance needs to be paid into a general pot, not to the individual parent. From that general pot, money then gets equitably distributed and made available to all the children throughout the nation, put into the hands of the 13 million families in poverty rather than the privileged wives of corporate executives.

In the case described above, it seems that the politics of not wanting to anger your biggest weapons customer is the issue. It would be good if we could also remove politics from family law, but that is probably asking for a miracle.

Andrew - February 10, 2016 at 8:13pm

It’s a fascinating case. You need to read the earlier sortie to the Court of Appeal at
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http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2014/1577.html&query=macur+lewison&method=all
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It seems to me, Marilyn, that you have two concerns: one for the boy, and one for the mother.
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THE BOY. Whether he is a prince by the law of his father’s domicile (which I take it is not England and Wales) I have no idea; by that of his mother’s he is not. The so-called marriage is a non-event in legal terms and I have said my piece about that and won’t repeat it here.
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The point is that when the father dies he can leave this boy nothing or anything – subject only to the law of his domicile. The boy will have no claim under the Act of 1975 and it is doing him no kindness to let him believe that he can live at the same rate as his half-siblings, if indeed he has any. Not that we now how they are being brought up – perhaps in modest comfort too? The idea of a non-resident father (who could, let’s face it, snap his fingers at the mother and the English court and pay nothing) being subject to intrusive enquiries about other children is surreal.
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On £204,000 per annum, index-linked, home found, school and university fees paid, he and his mother can live very comfortably and she can meet all their reasonable expenses – and with a bit of foresight, a bit of budgeting, a bit of common adult responsibility she can have some in reserve for emergencies too. Instead she has as Bodey J says just assumed that the father will pay for everything. I could not believe that he was ordered to pay more on an ex parte application – and her costs of the application too!
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It may be that a higher figure could have been justified – but to get a variation you have to show some serious change of circumstances. An application for variation is not an “appeal-light” and she has in any event had an appeal – out of time at that – and lost.
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THE MOTHER. When the order runs out – probably in fifteen years from now – she will have no further claim and indeed will have to quit her home. Even if we had a law “to protect cohabitees” (that is to say, to make one ex-cohabitee give property to the other” it would not help this lady; they never cohabited. And even the Law Commission’s proposals were not retrospective and would never have affected couples who had already parted. The fact is that for financial purposes these two people are strangers except for the purpose of seeing the boy through to adulthood – after which she will be no more entitled to support from him than from anybody else and he will no more be bound to support her than he will be bound to support anybody else.
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In the Court of Appeal Macur LJ dismissed, curtly and correctly, the submission of her counsel that carer’s allowance can “take into account the future needs of the carer at the end of the dependency by reason of the benefit to the emotional welfare of the child in knowing that [his] parent is not going to be rendered ‘destitute’” – a nice try, Mr Turner, but unarguable.
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It’s easy to be sorry for this lady. But there are two adults involved here. And no NRP, no ex-spouse or ex-cohabitee (and the father is neither of those), however rich, ought to be treated as an insurer or as an open tap, which is how she wants to treat him. An order under section 91(14) would have been amply justified and may yet happen if she does not get the message.

Marilyn Stowe - February 10, 2016 at 8:31pm

Dear Andrew
You’ve completely totally and utterly missed the point and simply reinforcing the same old approach that is so misguided in 21st century England. There shouldn’t be any room to distinguish between children. Then it’s a case of quantum. There’s no need for any intrusive anything. It doesn’t happen in big cases. There’s a view taken and it’s that’s it. Didn’t you read what I wrote?
Regards
Marilyn.

spinner - February 10, 2016 at 8:45pm

I read what Andrew wrote and to me his assessment is totally correct. Could it be that you are wrong and that nobody apart from yourself considers that because a female gives birth that should give her a gold plated in this case meal ticket for life. This “new” approach your promoting sends a very negative message to young girls about what they should aim to achieve and do in their lives.

Marilyn Stowe - February 10, 2016 at 10:17pm

Dear Andrew and Spinner
Again you both miss the point. This is a child we are discussing. Cohabitation law does not exist. So mother is entitled to nothing. The child is entitled to a carer’s allowance. It’s the quantum that’s the point. It’s settled law that there should not be too much disparity between mother and father. Its the BOY that counts here. It’s his entitlement. And I think that it needs a substantial rethink to permit him to stop being treated as illegitimate which in reality is what is happening. Stop banging on about the mother.
Regards
Marilyn

spinner - February 10, 2016 at 10:38pm

“It’s settled law that there should not be too much disparity between mother and father. ” – My understanding of the reasoning behind this which you say is settled is that you don’t want a situation whereby the child visits the father and he’s living in a mansion and then visits the mother and she’s living in a hostel. I agree with that however in this situation the child is not in contact with his father so he’s not going to see any of this “fabulous” lifestyle so that reasoning is invalid in this case.

I also think by most English people’s standards and these are English courts, a presumably tax free income of £200k a year is going to allow the boy and his mother to live a very comfortable lifestyle and they can get on with their lives as they like but given the child is illegitimate and is not going to be a part of his father’s family I think it’s actually very unfair to give him those aspirations or allow him to experience that lifestyle when at 18 he’s going to be at zero and entitled to nothing.

Andrew - February 11, 2016 at 11:38am

In fact the order runs until he finishes tertiary education including a gap year so probably till he is 22. After that he is on his own.

spinner - February 12, 2016 at 10:32am

It’s not surprising that Marilyn’s response to the situation is that we need more law, if you ask any professional how to fix a situation they will likely say it needs more involvement from their profession. Given the very valid points we’ve raised here and shown that actually pushing for more in this situation would most likely end up causing a more serious problem generally long term I hope that Marilyn specifically but lawyers generally will try to take off their legal blinkers and look at the bigger picture in situations.

Marilyn Stowe - February 12, 2016 at 10:48am

Dear Spinner
Please read my post again. I made it clear we dont need more law for this case, we need a new interpretation of the law.
Regards
Marilyn.

Andrew - February 12, 2016 at 10:58am

Possibly – but not by an application to vary where there is no change of circumstances to justify it. It’s people’s lives but that includes the father. However rich he is there is an order – index-linked though that seems to elude the mother who complains about things going up – which in the absence of a material change in circumstances defines his liability and has been the subject of an unsuccessful appeal.
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Do you think the law should make him divide his wealth equally on death?

spinner - February 12, 2016 at 11:39am

I did read it and I think it’s more a question of a layman such as myself’s interpretation of what new law means as in you want them to reinterpret an old law in a new way.

Marilyn Stowe - February 12, 2016 at 12:30pm

Dear All
What I find absolutely breathtaking about what you are all writing, is this.
There are thousands of fathers in this country desperate to see their child. We have all seen the lengths many will go to, to be able to parent their children. In this case we have a child who will never know his father. This father could provide far more generously for his son, and the mother of his son as his carer, but has chosen not to do so. So the court has to rule and I am not attracted by the fact he has paid out under the order:- he cannot possibly refuse to obey an order of the English court. He has far too much to lose if he did.
We thus have a father who has been ordered to pay a pittance, a sum which to him is probably the same to us as buying a box of chocolates.
It is all this I object to and I am pointing out too that all these courts have been exercised and none of them seem to be able to do something about it. And I think it is time therefore the approach is challenged, on behalf of children whose parents are not married.
I will comment where ever I see injustice and it is manifest in my opinion in this case. I do not agree with treating this child to be brought up on a comparative pittance because some would deem him illegitimate. I think it is right for him to be treated as the son of a ruler of his country, a Royal Sheikh, and the court order accordingly. You cant force a man to parent his son if he doesn’t wish to do so, but what you can do is give the child his self respect and sense of worth.
You are all of you are reinforcing exactly the current approach to children of unmarried parents in spades, which is why I wrote it in the first place. Its not just about being the son of a billionaire prince, its about treating all such children on a more equal footing as their half siblings recognising of course they are growing up in different countries but to a similar standard.
Regards
Marilyn

spinner - February 12, 2016 at 1:57pm

I think I’ve shown that you are wrong in your assessment of the situation and I’ve back that up with my reasons. I think your new comment is just a repeat of what you’ve said already so have another read of my own comments if you like but there’s no point in repeating myself.

I would also while you at it get onto your web developer as this comments system they have made for you is not really designed to be used much beyond a post and a reply.

All the best.

Andrew - February 10, 2016 at 9:07pm

Of course I read what you wrote.
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But when you say “There’s a view taken and it’s that’s it” I agree (although I think your syntax or your typing may have gone a bit awry) – and the view taken here just does not commend itself to you. I cannot help thinking that the mother shot herself in the foot with some of her ridiculous proposals – a seven-year old being a member at Wentworth!
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The really important point here is that she is as a matter of law not entitled to set herself up for the years after dependency, which is what I fear she was seeking to do with her claim for £800,000 a year. She has no business saving anything significant – that’s not what she is getting the money for.
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Do you sheare my view about these so-called marriages, which are a serious and growing problem?

spinner - February 10, 2016 at 10:26pm

After rereading Marylin’s comment I think she is trying to say that all children born of one man should financially be treated equally.

Do you also intend for the court to enforce that within families as that would be the logical extension of your point ? Would it in fact then be termed abuse say if one child got a Sony Playstation for Christmas and the other got a cheaper Nintendo WiiU ?

Andrew - February 11, 2016 at 11:33am

Less flippantly: by the English law of testate succession you can treat your children differently. You can for example prefer males to females; those born in wedlock to those born out of it; those who marry a person of the same race and the opposite sex to those who don’t; or just those you get on with to those who annoy you. There is the Act of 1975 but adult offspring who are not dependent will get short shrift if the only beef is that a sibling got more.
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Do you think that should change?

Nordic - February 12, 2016 at 11:07am

Dear Marilyn,
I find this case remarkable not because of the judgement, which obviously is right, but because of the attention it is getting. It has taken up lots of time and resources in our courts, which we are told are seriously overstretched. It has exercised the mind of some of our most capable senior judges. It has prompted prominent family lawyers, such as you Marilyn, to call for a revolution in our approach.
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Yet, this case has no case law value except for offspring of billionaires and royalty. It is completely irrelevant to 99.95% of the population. The same 99.95% who pay for the courts and judges who spend much of their time on this kind of nonsense.
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If a case law system is to serve the population at large, precedents needs to be relevant and supported by broad consensus across our senior courts to remove uncertainty. Yet, most our case law on financial matters are set in cases brought by high net worth individuals who have the funds to get the attention of our senior courts. If we need a sea change, surely it is to force our most senior courts and judges to apply themselves to run-of-mill lower and middle income cases and set some relevant precedents.
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To my mind, the reaction to this case shows (a) just how class and caste ridden UK society remains and (b) the extent to which this class system is replicated in our family law system. Correcting this wealth bias is surely a far more worthy cause than worrying about this boy’s “entitlement” to a royal upbringing.

Stitchedup - February 13, 2016 at 10:58am

My sentiments exactly Nordic. This case is pretty much a “one off”; more often it’s a case of put the father in the gutter and wrap-up the woman in cotton wool. Men are all too often left with nothing after divorce or separation and there is no real attempt by the state to ensure that a child enjoys the same standard of living as the father; if this was the case a high proportion of children of divorced or separated fathers would find themselves in rat infested bed sits. The father is often stripped of his home, children and assets, and further impoverished by unreasonable maintenance payments to both child and mother. For many men this occurs in middle age so they have little chance of moving on and putting their life back together, many find it all too much and take their own lives as a result….

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/male-suicide-scandal-uk-men-are-paying-system-that-drives-thousands-them-death-1493340

Often it is argued that there simply isn’t enough to go around but I know from personal experience this is not the case. The idea that a child or woman must enjoy the same or similar standard of living post divorce or separation as they did pre divorce or separation is plain wrong. A child who previously lived in a suburban 4/5 bed detached can be adequately and lovingly looked after in a 3 bed terraced. Indeed, it is in the long term interest of the children that both parents are adequately housed so that it is possible for the children to spend time with both. In my case I was forced to sell the family home at a rock bottom price in a rock bottom market…. 20-30 years of hard graft down the drain. For the ex it was a case of easy come easy go, she had put sod all into it so didn’t care. There was no attempt by the state to ensure that the assets remained intact or to ensure that I was left with a roof over my head… quite the opposite. The end result is that I rarely see my children and they will now inherit far less as I have no home to leave them… what equity I had from the former family home I was forced to use to live off when I found myself unemployed. I won’t bore you with more of my personal details but my situation could quite easily have been avoided… I could have been left with a modest roof over my head able to accommodate the children if the courts were prepared to take my needs seriously and the ex was made to accept a lesser financial settlement and live in a more modest home.

Stitchedup - February 13, 2016 at 11:13am

And to Marilyn…. if there’s an approach to be challenge it’s the de-facto approach I’ve described above… Leaving fathers with a life worth living, not just able to have contact with their children but also able to accommodate them. That would benefit far more children than looking after the little prince. I use the term de-facto deliberately as we all know in theory the law is meant to treat men and women equally but in practice we know there is massive gender bias in favour of women.

Andrew - February 13, 2016 at 3:27pm

I have said for years that the starting point should be that after divorce the parties should enjoy broadly the same standard of living as each other – not what they enjoyed before which is usually unrealistic. That would give teeth to the bland statements that the parties are equal and conduct is irrelevant.
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Where that would impose an unacceptably low standard on the children it would have to be postponed during minority; in that case at sell-up time the proportions should be adjusted to compensate the party who has lost out. He – usually – might then end up being able to afford to buy a home while she has to rent, but if it’s been the other way round during a long minority that is as it should be. Pensions should be shared to afford a broadly equal income in retirement; but a pension scheme which a party entered after separation should not be counted.

Luke - February 13, 2016 at 1:06am

I avoided commenting on this because I thought enough was already being said but there are a few points now I would like to raise.
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(1) It is irrelevant how much wealth the father has, child support is not supposed to be a punishment that he has to ‘feel’ !
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(2) Fathers who look after children directly can spend exactly what they wish to providing neglect is not occurring and the idea that £200k + living quarters etc. is not enough is quite frankly ridiculous, there are plenty of very rich parents who would pay less.
£200k + living quarters free puts any child in the top 1% of the country by miiiles and I think it is obscene and counter productive to the welfare of the child to spend even more. Of course this was never about the welfare of the child – it was about bankrolling the mother.
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(3) A great emphasis is being put here on the fact that this IS the boy’s father. Nobody is denying the biological link and it is then argued that because of this biological link the father should be forced to pay even more than the £200k (plus living quarters plus the enormous solicitor’s bill that she has run up to fight him) he is committed to paying already – yet when men want to check via a DNA test that they are IN FACT the biological father the biological link is played down and whether they are the biological father or not is suddenly not so important – they shouldn’t have a right to know !

Otla - February 13, 2016 at 12:16pm

The fault of this father is not just that he was born into money and royalty, and doesn’t realise how idiotic that is, and how much it criminally shames him in a country where I suspect the majority of children endure poverty. The fault of this father is that he has disowned his child.

It is complete nonsense to suggest that a royal family member who is so beneath contempt should be taken to the cleaner’s on the basis of a wilfully abusive child support system that just reinforces that children are little more than vehicles for financial leveraging.

He should pay nothing more than the financial penalty of not taking up equal custody of his child. And that financial penalty should be enormous, and it should go into a pot that helps the millions of children in little Britain, not just one privileged snothead.

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