A London-based businessman and millionaire stayed under the same roof as his ex-wife after they divorced in the 1990s. The couple treated their legal separation as just a piece of paper, but when the ex-husband met another woman and asked his ex if she’d stay on as a housekeeper, she snapped, much to his surprise.
High Court judge Justice Bodey ruled in favor of the woman and ordered her ex to part with half of his US$22.52m fortune. The Family Division of the High Court heard the couple, who cannot be named, tell their side of an odd divorce to say the least.
“The husband installed the other woman and her 12-year-old daughter into the marital home,” Bodey said. “When he asked his former wife to remain in the home as some sort of housekeeper, she found the suggestion very demeaning and upsetting.”
Apparently, he could not understand why his ex-wife, who is in her 50s, took him to court after he proposed the new living arrangements back in 2009. The man, who is in his 70s, told her that he would “commit suicide or go on hunger strike” if she “went to court regarding financial matters.”
This is the backdrop to roughly five years of litigation through the British court system. Bodey said the man could not come to terms with why she, via her lawyers, had become so aggressive. In the end the judge ruled that there was “no distinction” between the couple’s life before and after the divorce and that she should receive more than $10m.
The man argued in court that they had had an agreement which said she wouldn’t be entitled to a dime more than $5.63m. She said she was under duress when she signed the agreement and the court believed her.
It’s highly unusual that a person drags a former spouse to court with a financial claim so long after a divorce, but according to Eileen Pembridge, head of the Family Law Department at Fisher Meredith solicitors, they can do so at any point before they are re-married.
“I think this is pretty unheard of to carry on living together for this length of time,” She said. “To bring a claim after this many years is unusual but the judge will look at the facts and what has been happening in the meantime.”