When Mr and Mrs Torrington separated in 1991 they entered into a financial agreement which was recited in a contractual document (a “Deed of Separation”).
It provided for Mr T to transfer his interest in the family home to Mrs T and also his interest in a property in France. Mrs T paid him a lump sum. Mr T was to pay child maintenance of £2,000 per annum and half of their child’s school fees. The result was that Mrs T then had more capital than Mr T.
Both parties had taken legal advice and agreed that the terms would be binding in any later divorce. They also agreed that the terms would be embodied in a divorce Court Order. But they never got round to it………………………………………..
Life moved on. Mr T remarried and had three children. He became wealthy whereas Mrs T was not so fortunate.
In January 2013 Mr T applied to make the Deed of Separation an Order of the Court. Mrs Justice Parker, faced with opposition from Mrs T who wished to reopen her financial claims, made an Order in the terms of the Deed. She described it as “of magnetic importance”.
Mrs T appealed, asserting that the terms of the Deed did not produce a fair outcome. Permission to appeal was refused on the basis that Mrs T had no prospects of success.
It has to be the right result and it would have been manifestly unfair if Mrs T had been able to have a second bite of the cherry some 20 years later. However, it does underline the importance of ensuring that Deeds of Separation are “converted” into binding Court Orders. In different circumstances (for example, the absence of legal advice for one or both parties) there could have been a different result.