Appeal Court Highlights Difficulty of Reopening Divorce Settlements

Posted: 19th February 2011

ContainersAlthough it may be galling indeed when a former spouse goes on to great financial success, the Court of Appeal has again confirmed the high hurdles placed before a former spouse when their ‘ex’ goes on to achieve new wealth after the financial settlement on divorce has been finalised.
The ex-wife of a Greek businessman appealed against a 2006 settlement which left her approximately £2 million worth of assets and her husband, from who she had been divorced for several years prior to the financial settlement, ownership of a company.
At the time of the settlement, he argued the company had little value. Her expert witness valued it at £30 million. In the course of negotiation of the financial settlement, the ex-husband undertook a re-financing of the company, which he did not disclose. He later sold the company for nearly £30 million.
The court considered that the husband’s role in building the company meant thet the increase in value was due to his efforts alone. The increase in value had disproportionately arisen after the couple split up. In the circumstances, even if the husband had made a full disclosure to the court at the time of the 2006 settlement, it was unlikely that the settlement would have been altered significantly.
The wife’s claim to have the original order set aside and a new order made was therefore dismissed.