It could happen to YOU!
A while back, the courts were asked to empty a millionaire’s wallet by a woman who had been divorced for two decades. Back then, it seemed they had been something like New Age hippies, but his practical idealism had led to him working on renewable energy which had eventually led to a small fortune. Time changes people and his ex-wife, acting like ‘a really heavy bread-head’ (as Neil from The Young Ones would have said) asked him to contribute to her more capitalist lifestyle.
The records of what happened and what had originally been agreed back when they separated had been lost or destroyed, but it was clear that the husband had a lot more than his ex and nothing to show that she could not ask for a share of the money he had worked hard for after their relationship ended.
Naturally, the husband was aggrieved – when they separated, they didn’t have any wealth and from the husband’s perspective, it had all been dealt with way back when, so he asked the court to send her away without going through the extremely complex exercise of analysing their needs and resources: he said 25 years should be too long to wait. However, the judges decided that even though he may have many points in his favour, the family law courts cannot throw out a case without looking at the merits. As a result, the wife obtained an order that her much wealthier husband stump up cash to fund her having legal representation. It went through every available court before going back before a judge.
Last week, the settlement was decided by a judge and the way-back wife was awarded £300,000, which was a lot less than she had demanded, but still enough to cause financial distress when added to the legal expense.
I have been asked by a recent millionaire who had chosen not to sort out any kind of formal financial arrangement when she separated and I have sometimes sought divorces for people separated for decades when they want to re-marry. People also fill pension pots for many years after divorcing. The starting point for a court would what people have and need now.
Even if you are on amicable terms and have modest assets, it makes sense to have a formal settlement in place including an Order by Consent.
A stitch in time…