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Case law: Court rejects husband’s argument that wife’s expectation of significant future inheritance was a ‘resource’ of hers on divorce

A divorcing spouse should not assume that the other spouse’s prospects of inheriting significant wealth, even if virtually certain, will be taken into account when negotiating a financial settlement on divorce.

November 2018

This update was published in Legal Alert - November 2018

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

The wife in divorce proceedings had an extremely wealthy father. Due to ‘forced heirship’ laws in her family’s country, there was a clear prospect she would inherit a great deal of money from him when he died. The husband argued that this was a ‘resource’ of hers, and which should be taken into account when the court was deciding on the appropriate financial settlement between them.

The Court of Appeal rejected this argument. It said that she would not necessarily receive her inheritance for many years, and there was no legal duty on the father under English law to give her anything before then, so it would not be right to make her reliant on him to do so.

In any event, that "sat uncomfortably with contemporary mores", as it would significantly restrict her independence.

Operative date

  • Now

Recommendation

  • A divorcing spouse should not assume that the other spouse’s prospects of inheriting significant wealth, even if virtually certain, will be taken into account when agreeing a financial settlement on divorce.

Case re: Hayat Alireza v Hossam Radwan [2017] EWCA Civ1545

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