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Woman wins appeal over settlement at end of civil partnership

A woman has won the right to challenge a financial settlement agreed after the break-up of her same-sex relationship. She says her former partner lied about the extent of her wealth.

The Court of Appeal heard that Helen Roocroft from Bolton had been in a civil partnership with property developer Carol Ainscow. They separated in 2009 and Roocroft accepted a financial settlement of £200,000.

Ainscow died in 2013 aged 55. Roocroft then discovered that her former partner had misrepresented the extent of her wealth. She began proceedings to seek a higher settlement from Ainscow’s estate but her application was rejected by the High Court. It held that her application was doomed to fail.

The decision has now been overturned by the Court of Appeal. It held that the judge had erred in law by regarding Roocroft’s agreement to the order as fatal to her application to seek a higher settlement.

The judge should have determined whether there had been deliberate non-disclosure, and if so it would have been for the Ainscow’s estate to show that even with proper disclosure the order would have been the same.

The case was remitted to the High Court for reconsideration.

A spokesperson for Roocroft told the Guardian newspaper: “This judgment confirms that same-sex couples have the same rights under family law as heterosexual couples.

“Ms Roocroft now has the opportunity to potentially set aside her original settlement and open discussions on a fair settlement based on the true disclosure of the assets built up during the couple’s 18-year relationship.”

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