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The Money and Divorce blog is brought to you by Intelligent Divorce, the new way to get fixed-fee specialist legal advice on splitting your money when you divorce.

Our blog provides illustrated practical guides for those going through the divorce process, plus news on divorce, money and family breakdown.

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26 November 2018

Appeal court rules McLaren driver's prenuptial agreement is 'unfair'

The ex-wife of a McLaren racing driver could be entitled to a £5 million divorce settlement after an appeal court ruled that a 18-year old prenuptial deal was “unfair."

Anita Brack, 51, signed agreements in 2000 with Kenny Brack, 52, a test driver for McLaren, that left her with £500,000 when they separated in 2015. According to The Times, his wealth is estimated at £11.4 million, reports Family Law.

Mr Justice Francis told the High Court in 2016 that Mr Brack was “mean spirited” but honest. He suggested that Ms Brack take her case to Sweden, as both are Swedish nationals.

However, an appeal court ruled yesterday that a prenuptial deal was “unfair."

In a response to the ruling, Jay Patel, partner at Lincoln's Inn firm Hunters Solicitors, said that "the Court ultimately retains discretion as to what amounts to a fair settlement."

He added that "this is the reason why considerable care and skill is required in arriving at a figure which not only meets the reasonable financial needs of the financially weaker party but also allows them to receive a fair share of the overall assets."

19 November 2018

Increase in family law cases causing court backlogs says Lord Chief Justice

The Lord Chief Justice's Report 2018 has highlighted the effect on court workload, and consequential backlogs, of the increased volume of both public and private law cases, reports Family Law Week.

In his first annual report, Lord Burnett of Maldon notes:

"On average, care proceedings were disposed of in 28 weeks in 2017, over a week longer than the average in 2016. This worsening trend has continued, with disposal times exceeding 30 weeks in the second quarter of 2018, the longest they have been since the introduction of public law reforms and the single family court in April 2014."

To address the high demand in public law cases, a higher number of family sitting days have been allocated. However, despite judges taking on increased workloads, Lord Burnett says that there are still too few judges to absorb all of the increases in case volumes seen since 2015. This is leading to increased backlogs in work, and consequent increases in the time taken to dispose of cases.

The Lord Chief Justice says that a similar picture is seen for private law cases, with increased numbers now stabilising at around 50,000 cases started per year (most recently 50,358 this year up to June 2018), case numbers were last at this level in the 2013/14 financial year. Again, lack of judicial resources meant that only 42,550 cases were disposed of, meaning that the outstanding caseload has continued to grow. This backlog is contributing to extended waiting times, with private law cases taking 26 weeks from being issued to final order, three weeks longer than the equivalent period in 2017. Lord Burnett adds that there is a perception that too many private law cases are coming to court, which would be better dealt with outside court.

17 April 2018

'Meal ticket for life' bid backfires as divorcee loses £175,000 a year from ex-husband

An attempt by a divorcee to have a “meal ticket for life” backfired after a High Court Judge ruled her maintenance payments should cease after just three years, reports The Telegraph.

Kim Waggott, 49, had been awarded a settlement of £9.76m and £175,000 in annual maintenance payments for the rest of her life when she split from her multimillionaire husband William in 2012, after Mr Waggott twice had affairs.

Unhappy with the deal she went back to court and asked for a £23,000 a year increase in the annual maintenance payments.

But Mr Waggott, 54, has now successfully challenged the original award, leaving his former wife with a fraction of what she wanted.

Lord Justice Moylan, at London's Appeal Court, on Wednesday ordered the £175,000 a year maintenance payments to stop in three years' time rather than continuing till their deaths, granting Mr Waggott a "clean break" from his former wife.

He said that Mrs Waggott, the former finance controller of UCI cinemas, will not suffer "undue hardship" - and can always get a job if she needs more money.

Mr Waggott, the finance director of TUI travel, had protested that the ruling made by a divorce judge in 2014 was wrong and meant his wife had "no financial incentive" to get back to work and stop living off him.

Lord Justice Moylan, sitting with Sir James Munby and Mr Justice MacDonald, heard that the couple, who were married for 21 years and had one daughter, lived in a "very substantial" £4.3m property near Great Missenden, Bucks, before splitting in 2012.

The Court of Appeal was told that following their divorce Mrs Waggott used her £9.76m share of the "fruits" of the marriage to buy a £2m home near Chester and a holiday home in the Balearics, while Mr Waggott moved into a £1.9m farm near St Albans "with another lady”.

Nigel Dyer QC, for Mr Waggott, argued that the maintenance order should be ended in two years' time and that Mrs Waggott should get back to work and start supporting herself.

"How long should an order based on sharing last for? When does the meter stop ticking?" he asked the judges. "It is unfair to expect the husband to continue working long hours in demanding employment and not expect the wife to realise her earning potential as soon as is reasonably practicable.”

Mrs Waggott claimed the maintenance package was not generous enough and her barrister, James Turner QC, asked for her payments to be increased by £23,000 a year.

Rejecting her claim and allowing the husband's appeal, Lord Justice Moylan said: "The expression 'meal ticket for life' can be used as an unfair trope. I, of course, acknowledge that long-term maintenance can be required as part of a fair outcome (in a divorce.)

"But it is plain to me that the wife would be able to adjust without undue hardship to the termination of maintenance.”

Lord Justice Moylan said that the wife would be able to make up the "shortfall" created by the loss of the maintenance payments by investing £950,000 - roughly 10% -  of her huge payout and live off the interest.

He said that if the money produced by the investment was not enough to meet her financial needs, "the wife would be able to obtain employment" from next year.

Lord Justice Moylan added: “Any extension of the sharing principle to post separation earnings would fundamentally undermine the court's ability to effect a clean break.”

Following her court defeat Mrs Waggott also now faces a significant legal bill.