Started by FP, Jun 27, 2007, 11:03 PM
This is a generalization:QuoteQuoteThere are only three things in the world that women do not understand; and they are Liberty, Equality and Fraternity - Unknown?
QuoteThere are only three things in the world that women do not understand; and they are Liberty, Equality and Fraternity - Unknown?
A multimillionaire succeeded yesterday in stopping the woman whom he divorced nearly 30 years ago from claiming a slice of his fortune after she fell on hard times. Dennis North, 70, a retired builder from near Sheffield, had appealed against the decision made by a family judge last year to award £202,000 from his retirement fund to his ex-wife, Jean North, whom he divorced in 1978. Mrs North, 64, had left him and their three children for another man and the couple had divorced with a financial settlement that gave Mrs North a "reasonable" lifestyle. But after her finances took a turn for the worse she returned to court to seek a further award from her former husband in what Mr North called "a second bite of the cherry". Mr North, whose fortune is estimated at between £5 million and £11 million, argued that it was "simply unjust" that he should have to make another payment so long after the original settlement, particularly because his former wife's financial state was a result of her own lifestyle choices. In a rare court victory for a husband, the Court of Appeal agreed with Mr North, ruling that the second award was "fundamentally flawed". Lord Justice Thorpe, sitting with Lord Justice May and Mr Justice Bennett, ruled that Mrs North may still be due "some modest award" from her former husband, but it would not approach the six-figure sum that she had previously been granted. The judge said that it was the court's "overarching objective" to be fair to both sides. But he said of Mr North: "He is not an insurer against all hazards nor, when fairness is the measure, is he liable for needs created by the applicant's financial mismanagement, extravagance or irresponsibility. "The prodigal former wife cannot hope to turn to a former husband in pursuit of a legal remedy, whatever may be her hope that he might, out of charity, come to her rescue." The appeal judges will decide before the end of this month after considering written arguments whether Mrs North is still entitled to anything at all from her husband. The couple split up in 1977 and were divorced the following year, with the three children staying with their father. Mr North divorced his wife when he found that she was having an affair with a friend of his. In 1981 they hammered out what he believed to be a final agreement, under which he gave her a house in Sheffield, and paid her ground rents that he received on various properties that he owned in the area. By the late 1990s Mrs North had accumulated investments worth £328,000. But her fortunes declined when she emigrated to Australia in 2002. As a result of a series of "unfortunate" investments, based on alleged poor advice, her assets dwindled by more than £100,000 over the next two years. In March last year Mrs North, who lives in Sydney, applied to the High Court in the UK to vary the terms of the 1981 divorce settlement to provide for her basic needs and, in April, a district judge awarded her £202,000. District Judge Peter Greene awarded her the lump sum, despite finding that Mrs North's problems were "entirely of her own making" and that Mr North had no further responsibility towards her. Lord Justice Thorpe said yesterday that that approach had been "fundamentally flawed" and the appeal should be allowed. He said that any settlement must be fair to both parties and it did not follow that Mr North was responsible financially for any of Mrs North's needs. He added: "Even the applicant's subjective sense of fairness should surely not encourage her to expect that someone from whom she was divorced so many years ago should be required in law to compensate her for the financial consequences of ill-advised choices." Mr Justice Bennett said he agreed that there had been an "illogical inconsistency" on the part of District Judge Greene. "Having found that the husband played no part in, and should not be held responsible for, the depletion of the wife's finances, the district judge nevertheless jumped to the impermissible conclusion that the wife was entitled to an order of periodical payments."
A woman has won £220,000 in a ground-breaking divorce settlement -- 22 years after separating from her husband. They were married only four years before they split up but they never formally divorced. The woman, who is in her fifties and lives in West London, was prompted to bring her claim after learning that her husband had secured a windfall by inheriting some money. The couple met in 1979 and lived together until 1982, marrying that year. They separated in 1986, after the birth of one child. After their separation, the husband, who lives in the Republic of Ireland, inherited £120,000 that he invested in property, selling it in January last year for about £1.1 million. The woman's solicitor, Naim Qureshi, a partner with the law firm Healys, which is based in London and Brighton, explained: "The main reason that she did not divorce earlier is because their child was very young, and she did not want all the anguish of a messy divorce at that time. Now, their son is an independent adult." Mr Qureshi said that another factor was that the woman's former husband, who works occasionally as a chef, had come into an inheritance. "She had borne the brunt, with almost no maintenance, of bringing up their son single-handedly, and felt that she had a potential claim." Her lawyers argued that the woman had been financially disadvantaged because of her husband's lack of emotional or financial support during the marriage and because of his minimal provision for the support of their child after they separated. The lawyers argued that she needed a fund to provide her with long-term security for housing and pension provision. Mr Qureshi said that the court had agreed with the woman's claim and awarded her sufficient to house herself, while leaving enough for her former husband to buy another property. The solicitor said: "She is extremely happy and felt that the court has taken account of her contribution in supporting their son. She does feel a great deal of satisfaction and vindication." The woman, who works in a company that produces online educational materials, does not wish to be identified. Mr Qureshi said that although the inheritance had occurred after the separation, it was the only real asset in the case. The court had accepted that the woman did have a "need" and ruled that therefore it would have to be met from the inherited asset -- the proceeds from the property sale. "If the need can be met without injustice to the husband, and without preventing him from meeting his own needs, then the court should strive to meet the need of the wife," Mr Qureshi added.
Their marriage was as short as it was spontaneous. Jan and Leonard S., as they are known in their divorce proceedings, married in August 1966 during a three-day stopover in Acapulco. They were told the marriage would make it easier for Jan to obtain a visa for Australia, where Leonard was headed on a Fulbright scholarship. Jan obtained her visa, and the couple returned to the United States 13 months later, at which time they immediately and permanently separated -- Leonard headed to New York, Jan to Maryland.The couple's fortunes also diverged. Leonard made a substantial fortune as a businessman and financier; Jan became homeless, and mentally and physically ill.Now, nearly 40 years after she first filed for divorce and 35 years after she agreed to $100 per week for life in alimony -- as spousal support was still known when the couple divorced in 1974 -- Jan has sought an upward modification, citing a substantial change of circumstances and the danger of her becoming a "public charge."In a lengthy, sympathetic decision, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew F. Cooper has denied that request. "[T]here is no compelling reason why [Leonard] should be held any more responsible than society as a whole for what has happened to the ex-wife. Nothing in the record suggests that he caused [her] problems or that anything involving their marriage somehow contributed to her leading the life that she has," Cooper wrote in Jan S. v. Leonard S., 35438/1971. "The ex-husband has faithfully complied with the obligations imposed on him by the divorce decree and he has not missed making a single alimony payment over the past thirty-five years. No matter how great the ex-wife's difficulties may be, her life is not the ex-husband's cross to bear. There is no reason why he should shoulder any greater responsibility for her than he already has."In his 17-page decision, Cooper wrote that the case's "sad and unusual facts" seem as if they sprang from a Victorian novel rather than an American divorce.Since returning from Australia, Leonard, now 71, has headed several prominent national corporations. He has been profiled by Forbes.com and Smart Business and named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.Jan, now 67, has received public assistance since at least 1971, the year she, too, moved to New York. She suffers from an unspecified mental disability, according to the decision, and needs medical and dental work that she estimates could cost more than $100,000.Since the couple entered into a divorce agreement in 1974, Jan has four times moved for an upward modification, including the present motion.While the motion raised several substantive and procedural issues -- including the standard for confirming a special referee's report and whether a woman who has received public assistance for more than three decades could be at risk of becoming a public charge -- the judge's decision turned on a philosophical one."Just how far does [Leonard's] duty to care for [his] ex-wife extend?" Cooper wrote."It is impossible not to acutely feel how great the tragedy is that has befallen this woman's life. ... By the same token, it is hard not to have some empathy for the ex-husband as well. ... Today, most couples who divorce after short-term childless marriages divide their property, say goodbye, and never have to deal with one another again. The ex-husband, of course, has met a far different fate here. Instead of being able to close the book on a painful chapter from his youth, he has grown old forever tied to the ex-wife by the alimony provision of the 1974 divorce decree."Ultimately, the judge rejected Jan's arguments that a change of circumstances or the possibility of her becoming a public charge merited an upward modification of the alimony."The ex-husband is directed to continue paying the ex-wife alimony in the sum of $100 a week," the judge concluded. "The award will continue at this amount until the death of either the ex-husband or the ex-wife."The decision does not name the parties nor their attorneys.