Dr Essam Aly, an anaesthetist who left his wife Mrs Enas Aly in 2011 and moved to Bahrain, failed to pay any child support since 2012 and was accused of having "washed his hands" of his family.
After it was feared that Dr Aly would never again support his ex-wife and two children, family court judge Mark Rogers made a ruling that the entire £550,000 family assets should go to his ex-wife.
The husband appealed the decision and the Court of Appeal upheld the award with Lord Justice McFarlane stating: 'The judge had in front of him a case where he was entitled to hold there was no realistic expectation of getting any further maintenance out of the husband. He was beyond the reach of enforcement of the courts in this country".
It was suggested that by living in Bahrain, the husband was out of the reach of the British authorities and courts and so the judge ordered that his wife should get their entire fortune.
The wife’s case was that he had effectively 'abdicated responsibility' for her and his children, appeal judge Lord Justice McFarlane said.
The Court sought to provide Mrs Aly and her two children with some financial security by capitalising her claim for spousal maintenance. Mrs Aly was awarded 100% of the matrimonial assets, a decision which has been described as an "extraordinary departure from equality".
This case highlights the discretion available to Family Judges to ensure that a fair settlement is achieved in matrimonial cases. Whilst rare, 100% rulings ensure that the spouse and children are financially secure when the other party is a bad risk for maintenance.