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Vaughan v Vaughan - Husband to pay wife lump sum 29 years after divorce - "undue hardship"

Friday, 16 April 2010

David Vaughan QC was recently ordered to pay his ex-wife a lump sum of £215,000 despite the fact that they separated 29 years ago and had no children. The couple were married for 13 years and separated in 1981, finally divorcing in 1985. Since the separation Mr Vaughan paid Mrs Vaughan £636,325 in maintenance payments, being £12,000 per year from 1981 to 1991 and thereafter £27,175 per annum.

Since their divorce Mr Vaughan remarried and has 2 children (both at university) with his second wife with whom he shares a house in Kensington worth £4.3million. Mrs Vaughan lives in a £1million townhouse in Hammersmith, West London, and has no children.

In 2009 Mr Vaughan applied to the Court to terminate the periodical payments order made in 1989. Mrs Vaughan cross-applied for a capitalised lump sum payment of £560,000 but then dropped her demand to £341,000. Mr Vaughan won at first instance and the periodical payments order was terminated.

Mrs Vaughan applied to the Court of Appeal. The court told Mr Vaughan (who is worth approximately £5million) that he must pay Mrs Vaughan a lump sum of £215,000 by July 2010 in lieu of periodical payments. Mr Vaughan also had to pay Mrs Vaughan's legal costs of £400,000. Allowing her appeal, Lord Justice Wilson said the High Court judge was "plainly wrong" to conclude that Mrs Vaughan could adjust without undue hardship resulting in ending the husband's periodical payments.

After the case, Mrs Vaughan said "Court orders and first wives cannot be swept aside at the whim of the rich and powerful".

Decisions such as this emphasise why it is vital that clients going through divorce receive proper, professional representation and advice when dealing with the financial aspects of divorce. Please feel free to contact the Family Law Department at Rollingsons to discuss the issues in the case or your own Family Law matters.