Separated couples should fix their eyes firmly on the future when signing divorce agreements, as was demonstrated in a recent case in which a former soldier, whose ex-wife had ‘spent her share’ after their split, fought off her bid for a slice of his military pension.
The High Court found that the couple had struck a binding deal when their 20-year marriage ended in 2008. Although the ex-wife had since descended into ‘straitened financial circumstances’, she was not entitled to ‘a second bite of the cherry’.
When the couple separated, the ex-wife had received the family home but waived any right to maintenance. Her ex-husband retained his armed forces pension and had since met all his financial obligations to their three children. He lived with his new partner and baby in New Zealand and earned £66,000 a year. His ex-wife tried to re-open negotiations on the divorce settlement, focusing her attention on her ex-husband’s pension, which would be worth up to £600,000 in the UK. However, he responded that their assets had been divided ‘more or less equally’ at the time of their divorce and he could not be blamed if she had ‘spent her share and needed more’.
Blocking the ex-wife’s case, the Court found that the professionally drafted separation agreement had been ‘full, fair and final’. She had received appropriate legal advice before signing it and the consequences had been carefully explained to her.
Her claim for more was ‘very lacking in merit’ and her plea that she had signed the deal under pressure was not established. The grounds put forward by the ex-wife had ‘virtually no prospect of success at all’ and the agreement’s terms of finality were ‘indeed a knock-out blow’ to her case.
For advice on achieving a fair financial settlement in the event of a relationship breakdown, contact our Family Department.