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Wife awarded share of husband’s business in divorce settlement

A wife has been awarded more than £1.5m in a divorce settlement that acknowledges her contribution to the marriage but protects the wealth her husband had accrued before they met.

The case involved a husband and wife, currently aged 83 and 67, who began cohabiting in 1998 and married in 2000.

At the time of the marriage, the husband owned two care homes and an investment property portfolio worth more than £11m.  Throughout the marriage, the wife worked in the care home businesses.

After the couple separated in 2015, the husband claimed that the wife had effectively duped him into a relationship out of her desire for financial security and had placed him under pressure from the outset to transfer his properties into joint names.

The wife stated that the husband had promised her a 50% beneficial interest in his properties on cohabitation and claimed that they were effectively equal partners in the care home businesses.

One of the care homes had been sold in 2010 and the wife received £595,000 from the sale proceeds.

The court held that there was no specific agreement that he would transfer a 50% interest in all his assets to the wife as a condition of cohabitation, so that part of her claim failed.

However, she had worked extremely hard in the care home businesses and had achieved impressive results in terms of their profitability.

Taking into account the proceeds of the care home sale which she had already received, the wife should be granted a sum of £1,020,000 from the husband on a needs basis.  She was also awarded a flat and a lump sum of £200,000.

The settlement, which left the husband with over 75% of the available wealth, was entirely fair to both parties as it gave proper weight to the origin of the assets as well as to the contributions made by the wife.

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