The husband of wealthy heiress has been granted a £1.9 million divorce settlement by the High Court.
In WW v HW, the couple in question met and began a relationship in 2000. The following year a son was born and the couple later married. ‘H’, the husband, ran a film production company and was also involved in the theatre. Originally from South Africa, he was 11 years older than ‘W’, his wife. At the High Court, Mr Nicholas Cusworth QC, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge, noted that:
“It is now accepted (although this was not understood by W at the time), that he had never generated any substantial income from his artistic endeavours.”
W, by contrast, came into a substantial inheritance when young, including a 25 per cent share of an historic stately home and a valuable painting collection. In total her assets were worth close to £27 million.
In 2002 the couple had signed an agreement promising not to make financial claims against the other if they ever divorced. But their marriage did eventually break down, and despite the agreement they have since spent close £1.8 million arguing in the courts.
Judge Cusworth was asked to rule on the size of the husband’s financial settlement.
He noted that the husband had significantly overstated his earnings at the time of the couple’s marriage. He claimed an annual income of £60,000 and royalties of £80,000 per year. The true figures were just £6,000 and £8,000. When these discrepancies came to light during the divorce hearing, the husband suggested that they were due to a typographical error.
Judge Cusworth, however, declared:
“He knew that the income figures…were simply untrue….he was seeking as I find deliberately to mislead the wife and her advisers as to his financial status, so that he could be assured that the marriage would happen.”
He assessed the husband’s financial needs, concluding that he should be granted £1.7 million to buy a house along with a lump sum payment of £215,000.
Turning to W, the Judge said:
“She entered in to this marriage only upon the basis that [the man] agreed that he would not make a claim, and yet she has nevertheless been constrained to resist a series of costly attempts to undermine their agreement.”
“If ever there were a paradigm example of a case which demonstrates the need for more certainty in the law of financial remedies and nuptial agreements, this is surely it.”
Read the full judgement here.