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Separation agreement gone bad?

03 May 2010

In this case our client (the husband) entered into a separation agreement with his wife on the understanding that they would issue divorce proceedings after they had been separated for 2 years so that they could divorce by consent and not blame the other party. In that agreement he was to achieve a clean break, which would leave him the former matrimonial home and his pension on the basis he would take on the joint debts and wife's debts. Since he was due to retire he would collect his commuted lump sum just before the two year separation. When our client retired and was about to start divorce proceedings, the wife decided to renege on the separation agreement and requested 50% of all assets, including 50% of the commuted lump sum, 50% of the former matrimonial home and 50% pension share. The risk in this case was that the wife had no assets and it was clear she could have an argument for her needs to be met and she was receiving publically funded services (i.e. legal aid). Despite this, we issued Court proceedings, which led to the wife quickly agreeing to adhere to the initial agreement and a consent order was drafted and entered into achieving a full and final settlement as originally agreed.