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Talks Divorce

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QUESTION

My husband and I have been married for fifteen years, and my husband moved in with me to my farm two years prior to our wedding. I had inherited the farm from my first husband, who died prematurely, and for two or three years prior to meeting my husband I farmed the property myself, with the help of a Farm Manager.

I now want to divorce, but my husband tells me that if I do this I will have to sell the farm and give him 50% of the value. He is 65 years of age, and has his own pension and does not need £1 million for the rest of his life, and it is this sum of money that I estimate represents about half the value of the farm.

What can I do?

ANSWER

I think it quite possible that a Court would be prepared to preserve the farm for you, upon the basis that you inherited it and wish to continue to farm it. Essentially I think this will depend upon whether your husband’s financial needs can be met without the need to sell the farm that has been in your family. If they can, then I do not think that the Court would force a sale.

There is significant case law to show that inherited assets are not to be treated by the Court in precisely the same way as assets produced by a couple during their marriage, and the existence of inherited assets can justify a departure from an equal division of wealth.

Occasionally the assets can be ring-fenced.

If your husband’s pension income is sufficient to meet his needs then you need to be able to offer him an appropriate home, free of mortgage, but it seems to me you are very probably right in saying that he does not need £1 million to cover his foreseeable needs.

QUESTION

I was married for a short period to an extremely wealthy man, and we have one child. When we divorced my husband was ordered to pay me maintenance of £20,000 per year for me and extra for our child.

Six months ago I began to live with another man, and my former husband is now saying that he will not pay me any more maintenance because of this. I have looked at the Final Order that was made by the Court on our divorce, and my former husband is only entitled, under the terms of this Order, to stop paying me maintenance if I remarry, but not if I cohabit.

Is my former husband justified in stopping my maintenance?

ANSWER

Probably not.

You do not say whether your own income has changed in any way since the divorce, save for the fact that you are living with another man.

In a very recent case in the High Court, Judge Moylan stated in terms that whilst cohabitation was a factor to be taken into account when considering whether spousal maintenance should be varied, it certainly did not justify a complete cessation of maintenance.

If you have a clear intention to marry your cohabitee then matters would be different, but if you do not then it seems to me that you are entitled to seek payment of any arrears of maintenance that have been ordered, to be paid to you by your former husband, and you ought to consider applying to the Court for a capital sum representing the capitalisation of your future maintenance entitlement from your former husband.

As I have said, in a very similar case (W v W 2009) Judge Moylan supported the wife’s application for continued spousal maintenance and capitalised the wife’s maintenance claim, ordering that her former husband make a substantial capital payment to her to compensate for the dismissal of her claim, notwithstanding the fact that she was living with a new partner.

I would have thought that in your case this might be the appropriate way forward.