Articles

  • September 2018
    Divorcing/ Don't leave the finances to chance


    Many divorcing couples mistakenly think that because they haven’t got much in the way of assets, or they agreed how to share what they had, that a financial remedy court order is unnecessary.

    Two recent cases which illustrate the pitfalls for the unwary:

    In the first case, a couple married in 1981, a son was born in 1982, and separated in 1984.  The wife issued divorce proceedings in 1992 following a contact dispute.  Each lived an alternative travelling lifestyle. There were no assets.  In 1995 the wife moved into council accommodation with their son.  She had 2 more children. By 1997 the husband had successfully developed a mechanism for the commercial use of wind power.  The wife filed a financial application in 2011.  The husband was by then a multi-millionaire whereas the wife owned her dilapidated and mortgaged former council house on limited income.  The case was heavily litigated, with the Supreme Court deciding that the wife’s claim could proceed in the High Court.  The husband settled, paying around £300,000 and having contributed a slightly lesser sum to her costs.

    Possibly encouraged by that outcome, a former husband filed a financial claim in 2016.  They divorced in 1992 after a 10 year marriage.  The wife was made redundant and paid 1/3 of her redundancy money to her husband.  Their home sold in 1994.  She paid off negative equity of £6000.  Their endowment policies were surrendered and divided equally. The wife’s career prospered, she paid generous child maintenance and even purchased a home where they lived with their father.  He never sought paid work but helped his second wife, who owned another property, in her barely profitable soft furnishing business, receiving income from his stepchildren and other lodgers. The court held that the parties intended to settle their financial affairs in 1994 and had done so fairly, with the wife providing generous support for the children, during which time the husband could have sought employment as he had assistance with childcare and awarded him nothing further.

    There is a clear risk that in some circumstances a former spouse may be awarded a share of post-divorce assets.  Financial orders can be obtained by consent without the need for a formal hearing, and the cost will be worth it for the peace of mind.

    For further information please contact Ruth Jenkins on 013473 255591 or email ruth.jenkins@jackamans.co.uk.

    This article provides only a general summary and is not intended to be comprehensive.  Special legal advice should be taken in any individual situation.

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