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Divorce and Employment Law Claims

Divorce and Employment Law Claims

When it comes to marriage and divorce it is hard if you are both a husband or wife and an employer or employee of your spouse. Many husbands and wives assume that because of their marital or former marital relationship they don’t have the legal status of ‘employee’ in their spouse’s business. Others take the opposite view that, by virtue of their family relationship, they can't be disciplined or made redundant by their employer husband or wife. In this blog we look at the topical issue of divorce and employment law claims.

London divorce and financial settlement solicitors 

The London divorce and financial settlement team at OTS Solicitors advise on divorce proceedings and how to best reach a financial settlement. For divorce, financial settlement or family law advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form  to arrange a Skype, video conference or telephone appointment.

Divorce and employment law claims 

Divorce and employment law claims are in the news because a wife has been ordered to pay her husband £100,000. You may not think a financial award is unusual between husband and wife but this financial award wasn’t made by a divorce court as part of a divorce financial settlement. It was made by a London employment law tribunal because the husband brought an employment law claim against his employer who happened to be a company controlled by his estranged wife.

 The employment law tribunal ruled that the company should pay the husband £100,000 after a judge ruled that the husband suffered 'injury of feelings' over his Australian nationality.

The employment law tribunal proceedings involved Fiona Bendall and her estranged husband Duncan Bendall and the company, The Female Social Network.  Mr Bendall was reportedly forced out of the business and the London family home, where the company operated from, after his separation from his wife.

When the nineteen year marriage broke down, Mr Bendall started employment law proceedings as a former employee of the Female Social Network company claiming unfair dismissal and race and sex discrimination. Mr Bendall claimed that the company or his wife treated him unfairly because he was Australian and made disparaging remarks about his nationality. Mr Bendall alleged that he was forced out of the company because his wife wanted to employ a female friend in his place.

The London employment tribunal concluded that whilst Mr Bendall wasn’t sacked because of his race or gender he was unfairly dismissed and made a £100,000 award in favour of Mr Bendall.

Mr and Mrs Bendall are, according to media reports, planning to divorce one another. If they do so then they will be able to start financial settlement proceedings. In the financial settlement proceedings the court can make what orders it thinks are fair taking into account the factors set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. That means, notwithstanding the employment law tribunal ruling, either the husband or wife could ask the divorce court to order as part of the financial settlement:

  • Spousal maintenance payments – for example, the husband could argue that he needs spousal maintenance as he was unfairly dismissed from his job and can't get another one
  • A lump sum payment -  for example, the wife could argue that there should be equality of capital 
  • The sale or transfer of the family home 
  • Pension sharing provision
  • The sale of the company or the transfer of shares in the company. 

All these divorce financial settlement claims can be made notwithstanding an employment law tribunal ruling. Likewise if you reach a financial settlement with your husband or wife (who also happens to be your employer or your employee) there is nothing to stop a spouse who is an employee bringing an employment law claim against your husband or wife in their capacity as your employer. 

Divorce and financial settlement solicitors recommend that particular care is taken if you are getting divorced and there are potential divorce and financial settlement claims as well as employment law claims. Family law solicitors say that it is best that any divorce financial court order spells out that the financial settlement is in full and final settlement of all claims (including employment law claims) and that a husband or wife can't bring separate employment law proceedings for any matters relating to their employment that occurred prior to the making of the family court order.

To avoid the risk of future employment law proceedings many husband or wives will negotiate the termination of the employment of their husband or wife in the family company as part of the overall financial settlement. That way, with the making of a clean break financial court order that includes an undertaking not to bring employment law claims, there is financial finality and no prospect of further divorce financial settlement or employment law proceedings.

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

If you are getting divorced and you and your spouse own a family business together or one of you is employed by the other then it is best to take specialist family law, employment law and business law advice so you achieve a complete financial clean break and avoid the risk of your spouse bringing subsequent claims against you. OTS Solicitors offer joined up financial settlement, employment law and business advice for business owners contemplating a separation or involved in divorce and financial settlement proceedings.

London divorce and financial settlement solicitors 

The specialist family lawyers at OTS Solicitors can help you with information and advice on your separation or divorceand assist with achieving a financial clean break from your husband or wife  and sorting out your  financial settlementand financial court order. 

For help with any aspect of family law call the friendly and approachable team of financial settlement solicitors at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete the online enquiry form. We will set up a video conference, Skype or a telephone appointment for you with an experienced family law solicitor. 

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