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Judge rejects bankrupt husband’s plea for release from divorce settlement

The businessman who claimed that bankruptcy should free him from the obligation to pay the reminder of his divorce settlement has lost his case.

The Hon Mr Justice Hildyard rejected the arguments made by Alexander McRoberts, 54. Commenting on the businessman’s tax returns, which indicated that he had spent more than £100,000 on travel and living expenses in one year, the judge said:

“These indications do not encourage the conclusion that Mr McRoberts has done everything he can to discharge his obligations to his ex-wife; they do encourage a sense that his finances may not be entirely transparent.”

In addition, the court had been shown pages from Mr McRoberts’ passport “showing stamps for destinations, such as the Maldives at Christmas-time, which do not appear to be in countries where he said he had been doing business”.

The judge said that, while Mr McRoberts currently lacked an “income stream”, his finances may improve in the future, enabling him to settle the debt to his ex-wife.

Therefore there was “no special or particular reason” why Mr McRoberts’ divorce settlement should be an exception to the default legal position that divorce settlement obligations do not disappear when a bankruptcy is discharged.

He was ordered to pay his former wife’s legal costs of almost £9,000.

Mr McRoberts and his wife Mandy were divorced in 2003. She was awarded their matrimonial home and a lump sum of £450,000, which he agreed to pay in installments. However, he went bankrupt in 2006, by which point he had paid only £211,000 of the debt. The  bankruptcy was discharged the following year

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. dan says:

    it is wrong to be ‘devious’ and avoid payment. it doesnt help genuine cases one iota.
    I was bankrupt due to the court orders made against me that made it impossible to run my businesses. I had high loans and low cashflow. I offered to pay my former wife her £189k settlement but she refused along with the judge. I was ordered to sell my joint buy to let investments to raise the funds. the recession in 2006-08 put the properties into negative equity. loans were higher than the rental income. I was discharged this year 2013. Im told she can claim again. this gives me no incenetive to rebuild for my children, whom I did it for in the first and have not seen for 4 years.

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