Husband fails to overturn 'grossly unfair' divorce settlement

A husband has failed to persuade the court to overturn a divorce settlement he described a “grossly unfair”.

The case involved a couple who had married in 1987 and divorced in 2010.

The husband was a successful property developer and the wife was a homemaker. A consent order for financial remedies was made in 2010, which aimed to achieve a broadly equal division of assets.

There remained an outstanding issue of the development of two properties that were expected to achieve profits of between £2 million and £6 million. A mechanism was devised for the wife to receive payments upon the sale of those properties consistent in keeping with the equal division of the assets.

If the properties failed to sell, the matter was to be restored to the court.

The properties did not sell. A clean break was ordered, and the couple entered into a compromise agreement in 2013 under which the wife received a lump sum payment as a final settlement.

The husband remarried in 2015. The properties eventually sold but for far less than had been anticipated.

The husband argued that he had been left in dire financial straits because of the disappointing sale of the properties whereas the wife had been left with a substantial sum.

He applied to vary the consent orders and for the wife to pay him a lump sum calculated as a balancing payment to ensure each party had half the matrimonial assets. He argued that the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 and the Family Procedure Rules 2010 gave the judge the power to vary the agreement because it had turned out to be grossly unfair.

The Family Court rejected the application. It held that the acts did not give judges such powers. There was no lawful scope to set aside agreements in such cases.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.

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