The Labour MP Gloria de Piero calls for an effective ban on those convicted of murdering or attempting to murder their partners from recovering joint assets in probate and family court hearings.
Gloria De Piero, the MP for Ashfield and a shadow justice minister, is calling for a legally enforceable presumption of loss of entitlement to family assets in such extreme domestic violence cases.
She said: “It defies belief that a spouse convicted of attempting to murder their partner can have any financial claim on their assets as part of a divorce settlement………The presumption must be that there is a loss of financial entitlement in all but the most exceptional of these cases. I hope government ministers will work with the Labour party to amend the law and ensure this obvious injustice is ended.”
She added that an exemption could be provided for spouses who kill in self-defence or to protect a child.
The case that has brought this to the attention of the MP is the case of a husband who attempted to murder his wife and is now trying to obtain more than £60,000 from the sale of the family home. The claim for marital property is being pursued in a divorce case by a man who is serving a lengthy prison sentence after pleading guilty to stabbing his wife more than 30 times. The couple, who lived in Nottinghamshire, have not been identified.
This is sadly not the first time a case like this has come before the family court. The circumstances are limited in which a court will adjust the financial shares because of the way one of the spouses has behaved.
In the case of H v H in 2005, the husband violently attacked the wife in the presence of the children. By the time the wife’s financial application came to trial, the husband was serving a sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment for the attack/attempted murder. The husband acknowledged that his conduct should be taken into account, but he said it should not have a major impact on the proceedings. The court held that the conduct was at the very top end of the scale and had such direct consequences for the wife that it had to be taken into account. She was awarded approximately three times more than the husband – the husband still got ‘something’.
What is being proposed now by the Gloria De Piero MP is more that conduct being taken into account but would result in a total block on the husband in the case referred to above being able to receive anything.
The proposal seems to be for the most severe case of attempted murder. Do we think that is fair? Should they lose a financial share of assets accrued as well as serving a terms of imprisonment or is being in prison enough and blocking a share of the assets means it is harder for the offender when released from prison to begin again, and try to do better? An interesting discussion.