A British mother awarded £3m after divorcing her wealthy American husband in London has had her claim struck out by a New York court in a ruling that is expected to be seized on by spouses trying to avoid expensive divorce settlements in this country.
The case was seen by US divorce lawyers as a warning to British wives who try to use the New York State courts to enforce claims against US citizens.
But the judgment has left Claire Dallen, 41, without a claim in America against her multimillionaire husband, Russell, 42.
The couple met at Nottingham University in 1987 and later went to live in New York where Mrs Dallen became a company lawyer and her husband was a merchant banker. In 1995, they returned to Britain and married at the Guards Chapel near Buckingham Palace. Afterwards, hundreds of guests joined the bride and groom at the Officers’ Club in Horse Guards Parade.
The couple moved to Venezuela, where Mr Dallen runs an international newspaper based in Caracas. But by 2002 their marriage had broken down and Mrs Dallen returned to London and filed for divorce. In 2003, the High Court ordered Mr Dallen to pay her a lump sum of £1.25m and £2m in maintenance for her and their two children.Mr Dallen appealed against the High Court judgment, citing his absence, but the Court of Appeal described his case as “an abjectly hopeless application”.
Mr Dallen who still lives in Venezuela has refused to accept the jurisdiction of the British court.
Mrs Dallen subsequently applied to the New York Family Court to enforce the British High Court’s order but the magistrate, Nicholas Palos, ruled against Mrs Dallen, saying the High Court “did not have sufficient jurisdiction” over Mr Dallen. He said that Mr Dallen had not been served fairly with divorce papers so Mrs Dallen could not register her claim.
Mrs Dallen’s solicitor, Siobhan Reader, of the London law firm Miles Preston, said she was “desperately disappointed” by the New York judgment.