A divorcee who has set up home with a new partner is still entitled to a share of her ex-husband’s wealth, the High Court has ruled.
The 60 year-old was awarded £3.5 million out of total assets of approximately £10 million, after a marriage lasting more than 20 years. Her 77 year-old ex-husband made the family fortune investing in property.
Unhappy with the settlement, he took the case to the Court of Appeal, arguing that it was excessive because his ex had moved in with a new partner.
But his argument has now been rejected by Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division.
The couple had married in 1987 after living together for four years. They had two children and enjoyed a prosperous lifestyle, buying up properties in Miami and Spain. Divorce proceedings began in 2011.
During the proceedings, the husband argued that her share of the family assets should be cut because she and her partner had been living together for years and she should therefore financially rely on him. But Judge Stephen Wildblood was unpersuaded, concluding:
“I do not consider that the presence of Mr Chubb in the life of Mrs Hart should diminish her needs.”
At the Court of Appeal, the developer represented himself. The award allocated to his wife was “unfair” he insisted.
“The situation in my case is that my wife had been living as man and wife with somebody for years. It could be 10 years. They have a bank account together, a home together and credit cards together. You can hardly agree with Judge Wildblood when he said they lead separate lives. They are obviously living together as man and wife.”
Case law generally takes account of the possibility of a spouse remarrying when determining a settlement, he argued,.
Counsel for his ex-wife, meanwhile, said the couple had no plans to marry. Despite her new partner, she enjoyed her independence and did not want to rely on a man for money.
Sir James said the case was a difficult one.
“If one gets it wrong one way, the wife is left stranded. If one gets it wrong the other way, the husband is aggrieved.”
But, he concluded that Judge Wildblood had made findings “which in my judgment the judge was fully entitled to make in the light of the evidence he had heard.”