Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Look out - there's a former spouse about...

Divorcees who make it big will need to spend their lives looking over their shoulders in case former spouses come forward to try to steal their fortune.

That’s the warning from family law expert, Nadia Davis, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, in the wake of a landmark court judgement made earlier today.

A former traveller made a claim for £1.9 million from her ex-husband who became a millionaire ten years after they split up. And even though she didn’t lodge the claim until nearly 20 years after their divorce, judges at the Supreme Court have ruled that she should receive a payout.

The exact amount will now be assessed.

“This ruling may shock many people as it’s a common misconception that once a divorce is finalised, any financial matters arising from the marriage are automatically brought to an end,” said Nadia.

“But in fact, this case is a clear indication that divorcing couples need specialist advice to ensure that any financial agreements are recorded in a binding Order of the Court. This is the only way to ensure that neither side can make any further applications for financial support in the future.

“Without such a document, both sides will run the risk of having to look over the shoulder for many years to come, especially if they go on to become particularly successful after the split as they will never know when their former spouse may stake a claim.”

Nadia said couples in the most danger were those who agreed a DIY divorce, coming to an agreement between themselves about the finances, and assuming those discussions were binding.

“It’s amazing how many people are then shocked to discover that their former spouse is still able to make a financial claim arising from the marriage, even though the divorce itself may have been finalised years before.”

The couple featured in today’s court case met as students, married in their early 20s, and lived a New Age traveller lifestyle, before separating in the mid-1980s and divorcing in 1992. In the mid-90s, the husband began a business career and became an extremely wealthy green energy tycoon. His former wife lodged her claim in 2011, and today’s landmark ruling could have huge implications for divorced couples all over the UK.