Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Ex-wife warning for rich divorcees

Wealthy Shropshire men are being warned their finances may not be safe from their ex-wives, even decades after they get divorced.

The warning follows a court case where a millionaire has been ordered to pay his ex-wife over £200,000 – over 30 years after their divorce, and despite the fact she had left him and their three children for someone else.

Nadia Davis, who leads the Family Law Team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, said the latest ruling should set alarm bells ringing for wealthy couples.

“It’s clear that despite the ex-wife’s original divorce settlement where she kept the matrimonial home and received nominal maintenance payments, changes in the couple’s circumstances over the next 30 years meant she was entitled to more,” said Nadia.

“The husband continued to prosper and retired with a substantial fortune of between £5 million and £11 million pounds. The wife though made poor decisions and lost much of her money through bad investments.

“But the law says if one partner is receiving maintenance payments, even if they are only nominal, either person has the right to ask the court to replace the payments with a ‘clean break’ lump sum.

“So as the husband had gone on to achieve real financial success, the court ordered him to pay a lump sum to his ex-wife.

“He claims she is trying to get a second bite of the cherry when the whole point of divorce law is to help both partners lead separate lives.

“If The Court of Appeal allows the wife to keep the lump sum, the case may give the green light to many former wives to pursue their spouse for more money, particularly if they have done well financially since the divorce.

“It’s vitally important that husbands receive good advice at the time of their divorce, and heed the warnings that they may face further financial demands in the future, or they could get a nasty shock.”