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.
Photo by EJP Photo under a Creative Commons licence