Negotiating financial settlements in divorce

9 Dec 2021 | Lisa Pepper
Couple having counselling

Table of Contents

Costly and acrimonious divorces: a lesson in what not to do 

If you’re determined to pursue your financial claims on divorce through the courts, you would be wise to consider the financial risks of doing so. The specialist divorce lawyers at Osbornes Law are experienced in negotiating divorce financial settlements on behalf of their clients to avoid expensive litigation through the court. Where the court is necessary, they will always encourage their clients to take a pragmatic approach.

A recent ruling illustrates just how quickly costs can escalate when the parties do not cooperate. The Judge in the Family Court described the litigation as “nihilistic” with the children probably being “the main losers”.

What’s the background?

Paul and Caroline Crowther married in 1996 and together have two adult children and a 15-year-old. By 2019, the marriage had broken down and both filed for divorce. They had jointly run a shipping business which is now in liquidation. (Find out more about what happens to a limited company in divorce here).

During the marriage, the parties enjoyed a lavish lifestyle on the back of the once-successful business, the profits from their properties and taking out various mortgages.

The divorce proceedings that followed the breakdown became highly acrimonious and involved a successful application by Mrs Crowther for a freezing injunction in respect of £8m worth of assets; allegations of non-disclosure; and harsh judicial criticisms of both parties in respect of their conduct in the proceedings.

Mr Crowther, particularly, was found to be guilty of litigation misconduct and was ordered to pay a proportion of his ex-wife’s costs in the financial proceedings.

This ruling came in the third set of proceedings which, all in all, was a sorry tale of little communication and cooperation between the parties and their lawyers. Minimal attempts had been made to try to resolve even the smallest of issues, despite the parties being encouraged to do so by the Judge.

By the time of the hearing, the Judge estimated the parties’ net assets to be just £738,375. But the total costs as a result of the protracted litigation had reached an astounding £2.3m. These were, in the Judge’s words, “totally disproportionate” and it had become more a case of having to divide the debts fairly, rather than the assets.

Litigious financial divorce negotiations

This case is an abject lesson in how not to conduct a divorce and financial remedies case. The risks of going down such an acrimonious path are the rapid escalation of legal costs and the depletion of the assets eventually available for division.

It also shows that the courts will not hesitate to “call out2 poor litigation conduct and penalise the parties by way of costs orders.”

There is a better way. Cooperation, constructive communication and full disclosure between the parties at the outset will reduce the risk of protracted, costly and distressing litigation.

You can read the ruling in Crowther v Crowther [2021] EWFC 88

Osbornes Law are leading divorce lawyers in London. The firm is ranked in the legal directories and has been named as one of the best law firms in England since 2019. We have two offices based in Hampstead and Camden. The firm is also shortlisted as London Family Law Firm of the Year 2022 at the Family Law Awards.

Lisa Pepper is a partner in the family department specialising in Divorce, finance and children matters. She is also an accredited mediator. Lisa specialises in helping parties with considerable international assets. She is ranked as a leading lawyer in Chambers UK, Chambers HNW, The Legal 500, Spears HNW directory and Tatler Advisory.

Share this article

Contact

Contact Lisa today

For a free initial conversation call 0207 485 8811

Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you






    • "She has a good way of talking to clients in an empathetic way and is also a highly recommended mediator."

      Chambers UK 2022

    • "One of the most amiable, friendly and talented lawyers in London... she has impressed me as someone who fights my corner but also understands the importance of resolving issues without unnecessary escalation. She is calm and reassuring."

      Chambers UK 2022

    • Lisa Pepper is the stand out performer of the practice. She is pragmatic and straightforward to deal with – committed to the good outcome for the family

      Legal 500 2022

    • Lisa Pepper is outstanding and highly approachable and effective. She has a lovely manner that brings out the best in clients.

      Legal 500 2022

    • Osbornes has a strong mediation team led by Lisa Pepper. Lisa is a very experienced mediator who often places clients at ease and allows them to discuss very difficult topics. She is empathetic but knows when to be more directive if the clients require.

      Legal 500 2022

    • Lisa Pepper is one of our go-to mediators. She provides a practical service, supporting clients to conclusion.

      Legal 500 2022

    • Lisa Pepper’s mediation practice is absolutely brilliant. Real value delivered with expert knowledge. Lisa is a first rate mediator.

      Legal 500 2022

    • Lisa Pepper is one of my go to mediators. Her calm, collected attitude and friendly persona allow clients to trust her and open up to her. Excellent service and top level advice.

      Legal 500 2022

    • Lisa Pepper – very down to earth and approachable.

      Legal 500 2022

    • Lisa Pepper is a talented lawyer and we regularly refer to her for mediation

      Legal 500 2022

    • "Lisa Pepper was recommended to me as non-nonsense and able to help me with a difficult and confrontational divorce. She more than lived up to that – she was practical, collected and always available with a clear opinion and suggestions of how to move forwards. She also was open and helpful about costs and how to mitigate them"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Lisa Pepper is an outstanding mediator. She is very skilled and has an empathetic and professional approach which is comforting for clients. She never imposes her own view but is even handed and provides helpful guidance to clients so that they can make empowered decisions"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Lisa Pepper has built up a very impressive mediation practice. She is very engaging and easy to relate to. She embodies mediation in the sense that she approaches her case in a very non-judgmental fashion and can quickly gain the confidence of those with whom she is mediating"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Lisa Pepper is a brilliant mediator who produces results. She is effective at resolving matters without the need for the parties to engage in expensive and protracted litigation"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Lisa Pepper is a fantastic mediator. She is fair, robust when she needs to be, and finds a way of facilitating agreements in the hardest of cases. Her guidance is spot on. She has an approachable and constructive mediation style"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "She has impressed me as someone who fights my corner but also understands the importance of resolving issues without unnecessary escalation. She is calm and reassuring."

    • "Her mediation practice is exceptional; she is also a great solicitor and has a breadth of skill which is really useful."

      Chambers UK 2021

    • "The very personable and client-focused Lisa Pepper."

      The Legal 500

    • "Lisa Pepper somehow manages to get parties to settle on matters where there isn’t much hope to start out with."

      The Legal 500

    • "Lisa can handle the large and complicated cases but takes equal care with the smaller cases. She is a highly skilled mediator who is a consummate professional."

      The Legal 500

    Insights from our Divorce LawyersVIEW ALL

    1. two people walking
      22.3.2023

      Breadwinner or homemaker in divorce. Does it matter?

      Breadwinner vs Homemaker Divorce Rights When it comes to deciding how wealth is split in a divorce, English courts do...

      Read more
    2. couple holding hands
      16.3.2023

      Are trusts protected from divorce?

      Can trusts protect an inheritance from your spouse? A trust is a separate legal entity. Neither spouse owns its assets. ...

      Read more
    3. cube cafe camden
      16.3.2023

      Is a limited company protected from divorce?

      Is my spouse entitled to half of my business? If you are involved in running a limited company, then it...

      Read more
    4. man looking out
      16.3.2023

      How is a pension split in a divorce?

      Pensions and Divorce In a divorce, pensions are taken into account together with all other financial assets. Once all assets...

      Read more
    5. Camden house red door
      16.3.2023

      Who gets the house in a divorce?

      How is a house divided in a UK divorce? For most people thinking about getting a divorce, one of the...

      Read more
    6. Family divorce and division of propert
      6.10.2022

      How to set aside an order in financial...

      My ex-spouse didn’t tell the truth about their finances when we divorced, can anything be done? Can the financial...

      Read more
    7. pension pot
      30.8.2022

      Pension sharing on divorce

      What is the new procedure for pension sharing? Pensions are one of the biggest assets of a marriage, yet many...

      Read more
    8. woman hand open empty purse
      6.5.2022

      My ex has cut me off during divorce

      Can my spouse cut me off financially? Unfortunately, it is far too common that when clients say it’s over,...

      Read more
    9. Close up of african american man with calculator
      6.5.2022

      Divorce Loans

      How the Court views loans from parents during divorce A frequent issue in financial divorce cases is a loan from...

      Read more
    10. mesher order house
      5.5.2022

      Mesher Orders Explained

      What is a Mesher order? A Mesher Order allows the sale of the family home to be postponed in the...

      Read more
    11. husband signing decree of divorce
      11.4.2022

      Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) for Divorce

      What is FDR for Divorce? Traditionally, a divorce financial settlement is dealt with by mutual agreement between the parties or...

      Read more
    12. Couple having counselling
      9.12.2021

      Negotiating financial settlements in divorce

      Costly and acrimonious divorces: a lesson in what not to do  If you’re determined to pursue your financial claims...

      Read more
    13. squirrel hiding assets
      16.11.2021

      Uncovering hidden assets in your divorce

      Hiding Assets During a Divorce As part of your divorce, you and your ex will have to agree on dividing...

      Read more
    14. 9.11.2021

      Case Law Divorce Settlement

      6 cases that shape your divorce settlement Part of what makes our divorce lawyers experts in their field is knowing what...

      Read more
    15. separate paths in the snow
      10.9.2021

      Does Divorce Revoke A Will?

      Divorce and Wills In the midst of a divorce or separation, it’s rare for couples to think about making...

      Read more
    16. court of appeal
      10.8.2021

      Beneficial Interest in Property

      Andrew Watson, a London-based divorce lawyer in our family department and Resolution accredited cohabitation lawyer, summarises the law in relation...

      Read more
    17. lady
      27.4.2021

      Divorce in your 60s – The Financial Implications

      How common is a divorce in your 60s? The latest divorce figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show...

      Read more
    18. wedding bands
      18.2.2021

      Tax and Divorce

      Tax implications for divorcing couples As the end of the Stamp Duty holiday looms on 31 March 2021, that is not the...

      Read more
    19. man and women at a table
      4.9.2019

      Calderbank Offers

      The Resurrection of Calderbank Offers When a couple divorces, they are encouraged by the Courts to consider other dispute resolution...

      Read more
    20. 25.3.2019

      Self-Help in Financial Remedy Proceedings

      One of the first things we explain to clients who are getting divorced is that, when it comes to financial...

      Read more
    21. kyance mews london
      25.3.2019

      Y v Y – Balancing inheritance, family wealth and...

      The recent case of Y & Y looks at how the Courts have been dealing with inherited assets and confirms...

      Read more
    22. 25.3.2019

      Effect of Delay on Financial Relief Claims: Vince...

      Wyatt v Vince This unusual case demonstrates the risks of failing to bring a financial claim on divorce promptly, or,...

      Read more
    23. 17.7.2018

      Supreme Court Hands Down Judgement in Mills v...

      Supreme Court hands down judgement regarding Spousal Maintenance Payments. The Supreme Court today handed down judgement in the case of...

      Read more

    VIEW ALL