Asking permission: new relationships, nuptial settlements and appeals

Asking permission: new relationships, nuptial settlements and appeals
When will the courts vary a nuptial settlement and how relevant is a new relationship to a settlement? Rebecca Carlyon, partner, and Kate Molan at Penningtons Manches, comment on a recent ruling and also consider the appropriate procedure on an application for permission to appeal.

Original news

AB v CB [2014] EWHC 2998 (Fam), [2014] All ER (D) 152 (Sep)

A husband and wife had lived together in a farmhouse held by the husband's parents. A trust was later executed over the farmhouse, with the husband as the principal beneficiary. Both the husband and wife had contributed joint money to the farmhouse. The wife claimed for ancillary relief following divorce. The family court held, among other things, that the trust would be varied to create a wife’s fund, of which £23,000 would be outright and £134,000 would be on the life tenancy in respect of the farmhouse.

What issues did this case raise?

This case deals with three interesting issues:

  1. the question of what is to be considered as a ‘nuptial settlement’ which is capable of variation by the court under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, s 24(1)(c)
  2. the relevance of any new relationship embarked on by a party to proceedings to the appropriate level of settlement, and
  3. the correct procedure for the appealing of first instance decisions and the rationale behind this procedure

To what extent is the judgment useful in clarifying how the court will approach this type of case?

The judgment helpfully sets out a summary of cases dealing with what comprises a nuptial settlement and reiterates the test in this regard as being ‘any arrangement which makes some form of continuing provision for both or either of the parties to a marriage’.

Mostyn J’s decision is useful for practitioners and clients in providing further clarification on what will be considered by the court as a nuptial settlement capable of variation under statute. It is also useful in its indication as

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