Can a wife stake a claim in a husband’s increase in wealth after a divorce and a financial settlement (Consent Order)?

Written by admin

July 27, 2010

The recent case of W v W [2010] 2FLR (forthcoming) involved a marriage of 5 years with one child of that marriage. The husband, who was a solicitor, started a company during the relationship. In 2004, the Consent Order provided for the wife to receive our £500,000 as a housing fund and periodical payments for the wife of £18,000 per annum (and £15,600 for the child).

Both parties formed new cohabiting relationships. In 2006, the husband’s company was sold for £11.4 million. The wife as a result applied for an increase in maintenance and for this amount to be capitalised (paid as a lump sum).

The husband argued that any capitalisation should be heavily decreased to take into account the fact that she was living with another man.

The Court decided that although the wife’s cohabitation was a factor which they should give weight to, they must take into account any increase in the husband’s wealth at the time of the application. The Court also stated that the wife’s claim should not be limited to a level which reflected the standard of living the parties had during the marriage and they should take into account any increase in wealth of the payer. The Court also stated that any award to be made to the payee should not be limited to their needs.

In addition, the Court said the wife should be compensated for her loss of career (she was previously a veterinary nurse) and that such compensation should include a provision of not only need but a sharing of the husband’s new wealth. It took into account the wife’s contributions as a mother over the years and did not limit their consideration to her contributions as a wife which lasted for a relatively short period.

The Court therefore decided that the wife’s periodical payments should be £40,000 per annum (and not £18,000 as before), capitalising this sum, the husband being ordered to pay a lump sum of £625,000.

In a nutshell, therefore, the Court reiterated that any increase in the payer’s wealth arising after the marriage has ended could be up for grabs in financial settlement or a variation application.

The wife would not have been able to make a claim in this case, however, if the Court had previously ordered a clean break regarding any future claims the wife had regarding capital or income.

If you need advice regarding this kind of case, or any family matter, please contact our experts on 01992 892214.

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