Ex-Wife Aims To Increase Divorce Share Four Years After Former Husband's Death

Millionaire Gambler's Wife Argues Death Has Freed Up More Of Estate

27.04.2015

The ex-wife of a millionaire gambler and racehorse trainer is attempting to increase her divorce payouts four years after his death.

Albert Davison's estate was valued at £4.25m at the time of his death. Before he died, his second wife Penny Ann Davison was awarded £750,000 after four years of divorce proceedings.

Mr Davison had put their matrimonial home and family racing stables through an array of offshore companies and trusts, and had also lost a good deal of his gambling fortune at the time of the divorce.

However, Mrs Davison claims that her ex-husband's death has made more of his estate available by allowing him to avoid a large tax bill. She is now seeking an increase in her divorce payout to £1m.

Meanwhile, Mr Davison's daughter from first marriage, Zoe Davison, has argued that her former stepmother is trying to claim her inheritance, of which only £200,000 remains after all her father's debts and payouts had been made.

A decision on Mrs Davison's appeal is yet to be made.

Expert Opinion
"The court is very reluctant to allow a former husband or wife to reopen financial arrangements following a divorce where there is a final order. There are strong public policy reasons for finality so that people can rely upon what has been decided by the court and move on with their lives.

"However in very limited circumstances the court will set aside an order, such as where there has been material fraud or if there has been a new event which was unforeseen at the time and which undermines the entire basis of the original financial order.

"It is very rare that a court will allow an appeal because of a supervening event. These are known to family lawyers as Barder events, after a case where tragically a wife killed herself and her children shortly after an order had been made which was based around providing a home for them.

"However, if Mr Davison’s physical health was a known quantity at the time of the trial, it is unlikely the effect of his death would be a Barder event.

"Other changes of circumstance such as the increase or decrease in property or share values have not been considered by the court to provide sufficient reason for an order to be revisited."
Zoe Round, Partner
Expert Opinion
"It will be interesting to see how the Court of Appeal’s considers Mrs Davison’s application for a greater share of her former husband’s assets as a result of the tax saving following his death. Her claims of course will have to be viewed in the context of the other beneficiaries’ claims to his estate.

"This situation clearly highlights the complexities which can emerge in relation to 21st century family life, when people often do separate and remarry – creating a large network of friends and family who may believe they may be entitled to a specific share of a person’s estate when they pass away."
Paula Myers, Partner