A millionaire husband, Nicholas Ratcliffe described by the Court as “creepy” in his bitter and acrimonious divorce battle from his long suffering wife, Tracey Ratcliffe, has succeeded in having their settlement overturned on appeal because the Court of Appeal found that the lower Court judge had overstated the value of the matrimonial pot. Furthermore, by awarding the wife the greater proportion of the liquid assets to the marriage, it was found that the husband could have lost out. In allowing the husband’s appeal, the Court of Appeal has returned the case to the lower Court judge who made the decision to reconsider the overall value of the marital assets and to decide the case again.

The case was initially decided on the basis that the assets to the marriage, both liquid and illiquid should be split equally. Judge Wallwork ordered that the couple split their assets down the middle, with each receiving about £3.45m of the £6.9m wealth he found they would have. The wife was awarded the marital home worth £1.3m and he ordered the husband to pay her a lump sum of £1.2m in instalments.

The wife was given the security of the more liquid assets to the marriage because of the husband’s appalling behaviour towards her during the marriage and during the divorce case. The judge slammed the ‘deplorable level of coercive control’ he had subjected her to, installing CCTV to spy her in their home. In evidence the wife said locks were placed on internal doors and post-it notes were left on occasions in the kitchen with messages such as, ‘clean me’ and ‘unhygienic’.

Appealing, the husband argued that his own age, future earning capacity and housing needs were not being properly taken into account. Although the Court of Appeal found there was ‘no possible basis’ to challenge the £3.45m pay out on those grounds, the Court found that the approach to the decision was flawed which meant it could not stand as there was too much uncertainty over the value attributed to marital assets.

We await with interest the outcome of the retrial.

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