Millionaire Ordered to Pay Ex-Wife £200,000 30 Years After Divorce

Divorce settlement case

28.06.2007

28/06/2007

Dennis North, whose estimated fortune is between £5 million and £11 million, divorced his wife in 1981, after she left him and their three children for another man in 1980.

The couple reached a settlement which saw him give her their house and the income from rents on other properties.

However, Mrs North moved to one of the most desirable and expensive areas of Sydney in a country where she was not entitled to benefits.

Mrs North lost most of the money she was given by Mr North.

Mr North, 70, who now lives in a six-bedroom stone house on the edge of the Peak District, has been ordered to give his ex wife a £202,000 clean break payment.

The order follows a series of big-money divorce cases which have swung the law against husbands and resulted in huge payments to ex-wives even after short childless marriages.

The North case now threatens to make husbands pay large sums even decades after they split.

Three Appeal Court judges had heard Mr North's lawyers call for the payment to be stopped.

Mrs North, who now lives in Leeds, was awarded the £202,000 by a district judge last year. The ruling was upheld in the High Court.

Mrs North's QC, Deborah Bangay, believes it was not Mrs North's fault that her investments had gone wrong and considering how much money her ex husband has, she had been awarded payment at the bottom end of the spectrum.

The judges, Lord Justice Thorpe, Lord Justice May and Mr Justice Bennett, reserved their judgement.

Divorce lawyers have said that Mrs North's settlement stretched existing law to breaking point.

Elizabeth Hicks, Head of Family Law at Irwin Mitchell in London, said: The case of North highlights the fact that although when people divorce they think it's all over it isn't.

It is always preferable for the more wealthy spouse to try and achieve a financial clean break so that there is no come back at any time in the future and they both get on with their lives.

This case shows that an ongoing maintenance order, even for a small nominal amount, can result in the wealthier spouse making a further payment years after the divorce and finances were dealt with. This decision emphasises the need to try and achieve a clean break if it is financially possible.