With over 1 in 3 marriages now ending in a divorce, more and more couples are thinking of entering into a pre-nuptial agreement than ever before. These agreements are usually associated with America or Europe but are becoming more common in the UK too. Now...
Divorcee's Financial Claims 'Written in Vitriol', Says Judge
Divorcees cannot automatically expect to maintain the same standard of living they enjoyed when they were married, as one woman found out when a judge criticised her ‘speculative, experimental and unfeasible’ bid to win a bigger slice of her banker ex-husband’s fortune.
The 39-year-old woman’s demand for the lion’s share of £3.3 million in marital assets had been ‘written with a pen dipped in vitriol’, the judge said. Her claim for £60,000 a year in maintenance, 30 per cent of his annual bonus for many years to come and child support of £48,000 a year were all ‘unreasonable’.
Finding that there was no reason why the wealth built up during the couple’s six-year marriage should not be split roughly evenly, the judge observed, “It is a mistake to regard the marital standard of living as the lodestar.” The wife’s excessive demands had been fuelled by ‘the great bitterness’ she felt towards the husband.
The 40-year-old husband’s stellar earnings as an investment banker had been hit by a recent cancer scare, although he still earned £300,000 a year before tax. His cancer was in remission but he remained stricken by ‘great fatigue’. He had had to move to a less stressful job and his new girlfriend was expecting his baby.
Both husband and wife needed just over £1 million to buy new homes and, ‘as the weaker economic party’, the wife was entitled to £1,183,500 of the couple’s liquid assets. She would also need her income topped up until she qualified as a Pilates teacher and was entitled to half her ex-husband’s pension.
She had claimed alimony of £60,000 a year, index-linked for an extendable period of 27 years, as well as 30 per cent of her ex-husband’s bonuses, up to a maximum of £70,000 a year. Those claims were both unreasonable, the judge found, as was her ‘budgetary ambition’ of having more than £128,000 a year to live on.
Her £48,000 a year claim for child support was reduced by the judge to £22,500 a year – £7,500 per child. The husband was ordered to pay £30,000 a year in alimony and to pay the children’s private school fees. The wife was also entitled to 20 per cent of his bonuses up a maximum of £26,500 a year.
After the matrimonial home was sold, the wife would be left with the majority of the couple’s liquid assets and a little over half of their investments. That, ruled the judge, was ‘a fair and reasonable’ result overall.