1. What legal options are open to her to bring her marriage to an end. Advise her on her options under the current law and also following the coming into force of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill
In 2008, Sajid met Laura whilst on holiday in Spain. Laura was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar at the time and was finding it difficult to cope financially. The relationship between the couple blossomed and, six months after meeting, Laura returned to England and they married in 2010. Before they married, Sajid told Laura that his family were wealthy property developers in India and that he stood to inherit the family business upon the death of his uncle. Sajid is now 47 and works as a film set designer earning £70,000 per year. Laura is 38 and is a successful entrepreneur. In 2012 she invented a new type of hair tie, which has since become a global success. She sold the company in 2016 for £2million but retains some intellectual property rights which earn her around £1million per year. The couple have one child, Max, who is 5 years old, and the family live in a large four-bedroom house which is worth £1.5milion. The house is close to Max’s school, which is one of the best schools in the area. The couple also own an apartment in the French Alps worth £500,000, and there are various investments valued at around £2million. Following an accident at work two years ago, Sajid was awarded compensation of £50,000 which he has put into a separate bank account. Sajid’s employment situation is worrying him because there have been a number of redundancies recently. If he is made redundant then he is concerned that it might be difficult to find another similar job in the UK. At first the relationship was a happy one, however, the marriage has deteriorated recently. Sajid has become withdrawn and often spends weekends away from home without explanation. When he is at home he drinks heavily and is verbally abusive towards Laura, often in front of Max. Laura is convinced that Sajid is having an affair as she has found emails on Sajid’s laptop which are of an intimate nature, sent by someone called Alex. When she confronted Sajid about the emails he said that he was seeing Alex but that it was ‘a platonic friendship and not an affair’. Shortly afterwards Sajid moved into the spare room and refused to eat with Laura and Max. The situation is having an adverse effect on Laura’s health and her doctor is treating her for depression. Max has begun to wet the bed and says that he is “frightened of daddy”. Laura recently discovered that Sajid’s relatives are not wealthy property developers and that, in fact, his uncle works as a bus driver. When she confronted Sajid about this he lost his temper and slapped her across the face, resulting in a bruised cheek. Max was in his bedroom at the time but he heard the assault on his mother and became extremely distressed. Laura left the house with Max and is staying with her parents who live about 10 miles away. Laura’s parents’ house only has one spare room, which Laura and Max have to share. It also takes over 30 minutes to drive there from Max’s school. While Laura’s parents are happy for them to stay, Laura’s mother is a full-time carer for Laura’s father who has dementia and sometimes his involuntary behaviour can upset Max. Laura has noticed Sajid standing outside her parents’ house on two separate occasions and there have been a number silent phone calls made to Laura’s parents’ phone. Last week Laura received an abusive text from Sajid in which he threatened ‘never to leave her alone’ and that ‘he would not allow her to return to the family home’. Advise Laura, who wishes to know:
1. What legal options are open to her to bring her marriage to an end. Advise her on her options under the current law and also following the coming into force of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill (assuming the Bill is passed without amendments). (25 Marks)
2. What financial and property orders the court may make on divorce and how the various factors in s.25 MCA 1973 might be applied here. (50 marks)
3. What orders she could obtain to protect her from Sajid and to enable her to get back into the family home, and the criteria which would be considered by the court in the making of those orders.
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