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.