Divorce, Inheritance and Post-Separation Needs

Giles Robinson, Family Law Partner, discusses a recent High Court decision regarding a separation.

A recent High Court decision highlighted how the needs of a party subsequent to separation could impact on a financial settlement, even when the bulk of the assets are non-matrimonial in origin.  

In this case, after a long marriage in which the husband inherited the bulk of his assets from his mother five years pre-separation, the parties separated in 2018.  Tragically, in November 2018 the wife was diagnosed with Young Onset Alzheimer’s.  That had a significant effect on her life expectancy and medical needs.  

Notwithstanding the fact that this was a need that had been diagnosed subsequent to separation and was not something which arose as a consequence of the marriage or the separation, the wife was awarded sufficient capital to meet her needs for the remainder of her life.  

This case emphasises the importance that the Court will attach to the needs of the parties, even if these develop subsequent to separation.  Although not a feature of this particular case it also emphasises, perhaps, the importance of progressing a Divorce promptly, and then resolving financial issues and confirming them in a Consent Order (if possible) sooner rather than later – particularly if the financially stronger party – before new and unforeseen needs develop for the other party..

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