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20 July 2015

Husband awarded £1.9m divorce settlement despite pre-nuptial agreement

A high court judge has stated that if ever there were a paradigm example of a case which demonstrates the need for more certainty in the law of financial remedies and nuptial agreements, this is surely it.

At the time the agreement was signed, the wife’s disclosure showed assets worth over £16m, together with further inheritance prospects and income.  The husband claimed to have £600,000 in cash, £580,000 in business assets and income which, including royalties, was said to have been £280,000.  The agreement stated that they would not to make financial claims against the other if they ever divorced.

The parties separated in 2012 and a bitter divorce followed.

Within the following proceedings, the husband claimed that he had never, in fact, generated any substantial income from his artistic endeavours.  His income was a mere £6,000 and his royalties were not £80,000 per annum but just £8,000.  The judge said that the figures the husband provided at the time the pre-nuptial agreement had been signed were “simply untrue” and that the husband had deliberately sought to mislead the wife and her advisers as to his financial status, so that he could be assured that the marriage would happen.

By this time, the value of the wife’s assets was somewhere around £27m.  This figure did not include her interest in the parties’ London home, which had a market value of £4.5m.  The judge assessed the matter and despite the husband’s conduct, the judge had to take into account the husband’s financial needs, concluding that he should be granted £1.7 million to buy a house, along with a lump sum payment of £215,000.

Emma Alfieri, family law practitioner, commented: “This case demonstrates that whilst an award of £1.9m may seem high given the husband’s conduct, the court’s overarching criterion remains to be fairness and therefore the husband’s housing needs had to be met going forward.  The pre-nuptial agreement did hold significant weight and it is likely that the husband’s award would have been greater, had there have been no pre-nuptial agreement at all. For further information in respect of pre-nuptial agreements, please contact Steeles Law’s family law team.

 

 

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