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LIVE 24-SEVEN


JORDANS SOLICITORS SPECIALISTS IN FAMILY L AW


Barbara Jordan, of Jordans Solicitors, answers a question posed regarding divorce settlements following a marriage breakdown.


QUESTION:


Two months ago, I obtained a divorce from my husband of some 25 years and, prior to the final decree of divorce, I agreed with him on a financial settlement.


I brought most of the wealth to the marriage and, as a result, under the terms of the settlement I would have gone forward with considerably more money than my husband, although we agreed what I considered to be a generous award to him, as I didn’t want to see him go without after such a long time together.


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Quite out of the blue, and to all of our great shock, my husband died by his own hand five weeks after the Decree Absolute and has left a Will leaving his assets to his own friends and relations, but nothing to our children or to me.


My husband had always seemed very stoical about the divorce and there was no indication that he was going to take his own life.


As I have said, I wanted to ensure that my former husband’s future was financially secure and I would not have agreed to the settlement finally arrived at if I had known that he was going to die and leave everything I gave him to his side of the family and a few friends.


Is there anything I can do about this? ANSWER:


Without knowing the full detail of the settlement that you arrived at with your former husband, it is difficult to say, but you emphasise in your question that his suicide was completely unforeseen and, this being the case, provided it happened within a short period after the settlement was negotiated and made into a Court order, you would certainly be able to apply to appeal this order out of time and you should do this promptly.


The Court, however, will have to consider whether your late husband’s death fundamentally undermines and invalidates the basic assumption upon which the order was made.


You say that you arrived at a settlement with a view to ensuring that your late husband’s needs were met, but you imply that the settlement was generous and that his needs would have been met very comfortably out of the settlement.


The implication is also, therefore, that your own needs are comfortably met by what you have retained.


In the case of WA and the Executors of the Estate of HA deceased Mr Justice Moore decided that, in the context of a long marriage, and assuming that your late husband made contributions to your joint wealth, it would be reasonable to confirm an award to enable the deceased to make bequests by Will. The Judge also stated that he thought contributions to charities by Will could be essentially ratified by the Family Court in this way.


In that case a great deal of money was at stake and, in the event, the Court reduced the payment that had been agreed to be paid to the deceased man, but allowed a proportion of the settlement monies to remain in the Estate of the deceased.


It may well be, therefore, that you could recover a proportion of the settlement monies, but not all of it.


Jordans Solicitors, the Studio, Lydbrook, Gloucester GL17 9SB and 4 Royal Crescent, Cheltenham, Gloucester GL50 3DA Tel: 01242 386700 www.jordans.legal


LIVE24-SEVEN.COM


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