Wife loses £2 million settlement after signing postnup

Divorce | 30 Mar 2015 2

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The estranged wife of a property developer has failed in her bid for £2 million settlement because she signed a postnuptial agreement.

The couple in question had known each other for several decades. They first met while both were in their 20s. They began an illicit affair which led to the birth of a son. The man was married and the woman was cohabiting, after separating from her first husband.

The developer helped buy a house for mother and baby but he remained with his wife. Later the mother began a relationship with another man and married him. The new couple had a child together.

But, in 1999 the wife separated from her second husband and contacted her by now wealthy former lover for help with funding their son’s university education. The former couple went on holiday together and the property developer separated from his wife, to whom he had then been married for 29 years. He moved in with the mother of his son, while she formally divorced her second husband the following year.

The couple lived together for a number of a number of years, splitting up briefly before reconciling. Finally, in 2009, they married. But the relationship quickly ran into difficulties, with both parties attending marital counselling in 2011.

Eventually, following a complex sequence of events, the wife signed a postnuptial agreement later that year, in which she was allocated a share of her husband’s pension, £350,000 and two properties. But she insisted that she had only done so under pressure and was in fact entitled to the significantly larger sum of £2 million.

He had “bullied” and “badgered” her into signing the agreement, she said, and she would only meet her reasonable needs with the larger sum.

But Deputy High Court Judge Nicholas Cusworth QC was not convinced by her claims. He declared:

“I am satisfied that it did not happen in the dramatised fashion recounted by the wife in her 2014 statement, and repeated to me in her oral evidence. I am not satisfied that there was not some physical tension between the parties…but… its effect on the wife was not such that she was rendered thereafter incapable of forming her own mind about the issues under discussion.”

Failing to hold the wife to the terms of the agreement she had signed would not be fair to the husband, the Judge declared.

The judgement is available here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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    1. Luke says:

      “Eventually, following a complex sequence of events, the wife signed a postnuptial agreement later that year, in which she was allocated a share of her husband’s pension, £350,000 and two properties”
      Well, she hasn’t ‘lost’ £2m, the valuables above are hardly chunk change – she signed a post-nuptial agreement and was held accountable for it – this decision is right in my view and really a no-brainer. In my view she should have been penalised by paying his costs for even attempting to get this overturned, it is frivolous.

    2. Andrew says:

      Entirely. If costs followed the event it would not have occurred to here that she was under duress.

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