This case shows the importance of finalising the financial details of a divorce, because if you don’t you leave the way clear for an ex-partner to apply for a share of your assets years later, as this ex-husband attempted to 25 years after the divorce.
The couple divorced in 1992 having been married for nine years, the wife went on to have a successful and prosperous career which resulted in an estimated asset value of £4.7 million. The husband had not been so successful, working on and off and his assets were only worth £60,000 which consisted of his pension. He decided in 2016 that he would seek a financial solution from his ex-wife under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
After the divorce the husband looked after their children, the wife and her partner bought a house for them at a cost of £400,000 and spent £200,00 renovating the property along with other financial support for her ex-husband and their children.
The High Court when considering the case noted that no legal advice had been obtained by either party and therefore no formal legal solution had been made to settle the financial element of their divorce. Both had moved on to new partnerships and the wife had believed that the marriage was finished and she did not consider any form of written finalisation.
The Court dismissed the husband’s claim, and while they acknowledged that in some cases there may be a justification for a financial claim to be made in later years, in this case, there had been an informal agreement in place following their divorce. The husband argued that he had only agreed under duress and was pressured into accepting the agreement, a claim the court dismissed.
The husband sought to stay in the house his wife had purchased for him and their children and this request failed as his new wife owned a property where he could live and he worked in their company, and even if this was not successful he could secure alternative employment.
The husband’s lifestyle choice had been the main factor in determining his current financial position. The wife had given him and the children the financial support they needed which also enabled him to care for their children and choose his own career path. The wife had satisfied her financial obligations and to ask her to pay more would be unfair.
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