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Mentally ill wife allowed to appeal against divorce settlement

A wife who suffered from mental illness has been granted permission to appeal against the divorce settlement she received.

In MAP v RAP, the couple had married in 1981, with the wife eventually issuing a divorce petition in 2008. The previous year she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, previously known as ‘manic depression’. Following her initial diagnosis she was admitted to hospital and detained under the Mental Health Act on a number of occasions.

At the High Court in London, Mr Justice Mostyn noted that when admitted to a mental health unit in Lewisham Hospital in August 2011, she was “found to be manic with psychotic symptoms and was being very vulnerable and challenging.”

Shortly before this admission, she had reached an initial agreement with her estranged husband, which formed the basis of the formal consent order (financial settlement) the following April.

She was discharged from the unit under supervision in October, subsequently firing her divorce solicitors and travelling to Italy.

In 2013, her mental health having improved, the wife applied for permission to appeal against the agreement. Amongst other claims, that she did not have capacity to agree to the order on the basis of her mental illness and that the courts had not been properly aware of this.

She also argued the settlement had been unfair and that the husband was guilty of ‘material non-disclosure’ (ie he had not fully disclosed his financial assets).

Mr Justice Mostyn was unsympathetic to the latter two claims, saying he was “completely satisfied” that they have “no prospect of success”. However, he came to a different conclusion in relation to her capacity, declaring that the claim she had legal capacity to reach the agreement “unarguable”.

He said:

“Following her return from hospital it is true that she gained some kind of an improvement although she remained heavily medicated, but as against that one has to remember that she was making the impulsive and unwise decision to represent herself. So, I am of the view that there is an issue of capacity that deserves to be tried.”

Read the full judgement here.

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. Andrew says:

    Just how do you reach a divorce settlement which will be secure against subsequent changes of mind?

  2. m says:

    I am relieved for finding your site, and also scared that yet again i will be turned away from my only hope of help . Because of the severity of mistakes wrong diagnosis over my Husband BY Cornwall Partnership trust the decisions that have been made for him have alienated me from my family and friends for many years through his care i have all the photographic proof of the wrong imprisonment and the reasons for our suffering till this day this has been since 2003 from a head injury the strokes he incurred after he was taken into hospital and given ect and many years of misery have followed over their decisions and misconduct My hands have been tied as when ever i ask for a solicitor i am always told conflict of interest exists or by affiliation for his care i suffer with the guilt of his situation constantly striving to get help Our children though grown up experienced his incarceration from a young age were bullied and beaten up for the bullying against their Dad . This is all the more sad that he was scapegoated by his Mother who had severe manic depression the proof i have in photographic dates and statements the whole system have made my life hell i have to go to court on the 3 march i have no one to re[resent me or offer any assistance please help desperate and without any legal help thank you . Yours sincerely M

  3. m says:

    ps . / please if possible a quick response as i have to hand in a form E for myself tomorrow as the absolout settlement has been set on the 3rd march , that is only one area that has been forced on my ex husband by the mental health care team Cornwall Cares especially became more forceful against me after My Mother in LAW passed MY Husband believing her wishes were for me to have a portion of her inheritence so determined that although i was a carer for both of them they threatened MAKE DECISIONS over our tenenncy and push through a divorce without my knowledge i appealed by the Queen”s Proctor but i was never told of any decision or or told any results to my appeal against the untimely decision of divorce as i feared that there was no next of kin, as these decisions were taken from me. Also not being informed, even the power of attorney i was not notified or invited to appeal My ex Husband is not happy that i have no legal help as he acknowledges my suffering and also acknowledges my help for the years of marriage and the care i gave , I am fragile more than belief right now but as determined to bring the proof in one envelope that none of this should of ever happened .

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