Judge awards maintenance despite prenup

Divorce|October 22nd 2015

A wealthy businessman has been ordered by the High Court to pay his ex-wife maintenance despite the conditions of their prenuptial agreement.

There was “a striking financial disparity” between the couple prior to the start of their relationship in 2012. The 71 year-old husband had “substantial capital assets” and a monthly income of about £14,000 from various business interests and pensions. By contrast, his wife had “nothing of any consequence to speak of” and some debts.

A month before they married, the couple signed a prenuptial agreement which was “plainly to protect [the husband’s] accumulated wealth”. It stipulated that the wife would be unable to make a financial claim against him if their marriage came to an end.

They were married less than a year before they separated. Subsequently, the wife applied for financial assistance under Section 27 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. This legislation declares that a married person is entitled to seek a court order if their spouse has “failed to provide reasonable maintenance” for them. Specifically, she asked the judge for “periodical payments” to be backdated to the day the relationship broke down.

His Honour Judge Booth said that the husband was “providing no financial support … when he is plainly able to do so”. He added that as the wife was 63 years-old and did not have a job, she was “likely to be dependant on benefits and her state pension for the foreseeable future”.

The judge ruled that the wife had been “left in a disadvantageous position whilst this marriage is untangled” because the husband had “failed to provide her with reasonable support”. He ordered the husband to pay her £1,500 a month, which was backdated to the date of their relationship breakdown. These payments would continue until their divorce was finalised and a more permanent arrangement could be agreed.

H v H is available to read online here.

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  1. stitchedup says:

    Prenup and married less than a year before breakdown of marriage…. Yet still has to pay maintenance?????? Looks like a clear case of the state offloading their responsibilities onto the husband.

  2. JamesB says:

    To be fair and balanced, this is not a final order but is maintenance pending suit. I.e. as per the last sentence and think is reasonable as divorces go crazy financially, emotionally and in time can drag on etc.

    If it were the final order then my sentaments would be the same as stitched up and would be shouting and biting on the injustice of it all. In as much as it does it looks like a reasonable order. Perhaps an attempt, by whoever wrote it, who has not put their name to their work of art (sarcastic) at flaming the reading audience and provocing a response and debate by readers about unfairness of divorce to husbands, as it is usually. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  3. Andrew says:

    She should get a lump sum equal the cost of an annuity to match the state benefits she would otherwise get and all other claims – including on death – dismissed. That would meet the justice of the case.

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