Divorce settlement: Husband’s reluctance to settle costs him £72.3 million

Nicola Furmston

In a just released High Court decision, a judge has awarded a wife of 20 years a divorce settlement totalling 14 times more than the amount offered by her husband. The settlement amounts to a total of £72.3 million. The husband, a former key executive in a private equity company argued that the wife should be bound by the terms of an agreement entered into after marriage (a post-nuptial agreement) which would have left her with £3 million, her own money.

The husband argued that this reflected his exceptional hard work in generating the asset pot and the existence of the agreement. The judge disagreed, stating that it would ‘be unsatisfactory and gender discriminatory’ to make an unequal award.

We wait to see whether this becomes the subject of an appeal but one of the key lessons of the story is that parties should always consider making sensible offers to settle cases before the matter escalates to trial. In this case the judge pointed out to the husband that his failure to make any offer at all had cost him tens of millions of pounds.

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Nicola Furmston is a solicitor specialising in the family field at Barker Gotelee, Solicitors in Ipswich.