The case of FRB v DCA NO 2 is a further judgment in a dispute between two spouses over the effect of "paternity deceit". The husband in the case was found not to be the biological father of the child in question, aged 9, and known as C, as a result of DNA testing after the marriage had broken down. This case dealt with the question of the financial effect on the wife's award.
The judge was clear that the only relevant issue was whether the wife's action in allowing the husband to bring up C in the belief that he was the natural father amounted to conduct. It was not a question of penalising her for sexual misconduct. The wife argued that she was convinced that the husband was the father of C, and so there was no deceit. The judge concluded that it would be "naive" of him to find that it never crossed her mind that anyone other than the husband could be the father.
The judge accepted that the impact on the husband of finding out that he was not the biological father had a devastating effect on him. He concluded that it was relevant conduct which it would be inequitable to disregard.
He found the question of how the conduct was to be taken into account as much more difficult. The husband rather than the biological father had a valued relationship with C. The judge also found that the husband was guilty of substantial non disclosure, and that he had access to or ownership of assets which he had not disclosed. He thus did not reduce the wife's award by giving her less of the disclosed assets, since she would then have a double reduction.
The wife received the London house (£15m) plus a lump sum of £49m.
This could be seen to be a neat solution in a case in which there had already been Children Act litigation and proceedings in the Chancery and Queen's Bench division (total costs over £11m).
The judge also concluded that there should be a broadly equal division of the costs of C between the husband and the wife/biological father. However, the husband was still ordered to pay £60,000 plus school fees.
In my judgment W’s actions are conduct so egregious that it would be inequitable to disregard.