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Appeal over civil partnership settlement

A former couple are awaiting the outcome of what is thought to be the first legal battle over the division of assets following the break-up of a civil partnership.

9 March 2012

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Actor Don Gallagher, who played one of the lead roles in the stage version of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, is in a dispute with his ex-partner, Peter Lawrence, an equity analyst for JP Morgan. Lawrence is challenging in the Court of Appeal the way a family judge divided up the partnership assets of more than £4m, accusing her of unfairly awarding Gallagher too much.

Lawrence, who reportedly earns around £390,000 a year, had been in a civil partnership with Gallagher which had lasted seven months, although they had previously cohabited for over 11 years. Mrs Justice Parker decided last June that Gallagher should receive £1.7m out of the couple’s assets, but Lawrence is claiming the decision to award his former partner 42 per cent of the assets is unfair.

Tom Bishop QC, appearing for Gallagher, said the family judge had acted correctly and fairly when she ordered an overall 42-58 split of assets - £1.69m to Gallagher and £2.485m to Lawrence, which had taken into account that Lawrence had brought assets of a greater value to the partnership. Bishop argued it would be “inconceivable” that the family courts would approve the kind of settlement Lawrence was seeking in the context of a heterosexual marriage of a similar duration.

The appeal judges reserved their judgment and will announce the decision at a later date.

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