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Talks Divorce

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QUESTION

I am a retired lady who has been married for 30 years.

I separated from my husband nine years ago when he was charged with sexually abusing our own grandchild and other children. As you can imagine, I was absolutely horrified, and the marriage collapsed at that point.

Although I lost all feeling for my husband, I did not attempt to divorce him because he was facing serious criminal charges and was later imprisoned. Before he went into prison we divided up all of the assets, we had accumulated during them marriage, equally, and he signed an agreement that he would not make any further claim against me.

Since then I have come into a very large inheritance in excess of £1 million and my husband has come out of prison. He has far less than me, although I think he has enough for his own future. He says he has not, and is threatening to take me to Court with a view to having some of my inherited wealth.

Will he succeed?

ANSWER

Probably not.

As you have already come to what, I think, must amount to a post nuptial agreement or a separation agreement, and he has committed gross offences, which have undoubtedly had a devastating affect on your family, I think that the combination of both of these factors would preclude any Court giving him any more money, provided of course that he is not destitute.

If he has enough for the rest of his life, and can buy a small property in which to live and either work or live on pension income, even if this is just the State Pension, I suspect that his claim against you will fall on deaf ears. (C v T [2009] All ER 43)

QUESTION

My wife and I have been married for 11 years, and have no children. For both of us this is our second marriage.

When we married I was running a company which had little value, but I had spent many years putting my effort into setting it up and developing it. When I say it had little value, it was certainly not worthless, but since we have married it has grown exponentially, and it now worth a very considerable amount of money due largely to my own efforts.

My wife has left me and now says that she is entitled to half of the value of my company, which seems to me to be completely unfair.

Is she right?

ANSWER

Probably not.

You say that your company had a value prior to the marriage, and you had been working to enhance its value for many years .

Although it may well be a difficult task I think it is likely that a Court could, and would, favour trying to establish the value of the company prior to the marriage, and that value could be considered by the Court as a non matrimonial asset. The increase of the value of the company during the marriage may well be treated by the Court as a matrimonial asset, but as the marriage is not particularly long I do not think that your wife will be able to claim 50% of the value that has been acquired during the period of the marriage, although a Court will want to ensure that she has enough to buy a reasonable home for herself and, if she is not of working age, to maintain herself in the future.

However, even this may be affected by liquidity within your business. If the business simply cannot afford to pay out your wife then it may be that some other structure of settlement might be possible.