Improving on a non-binding agreement

Holly represented a Wife in financial proceedings brought over a decade after the parties’ separation. The Husband alleged that they had reached an agreement at separation which gave Holly’s client half of the then marital assets in the form of £20,000 of endowment policies, while he kept the family home and took on the marital debts. Since that time he had repaid the debts – albeit partly with a marital pension – and the value of the family home had increased significantly. The Husband had maintained a good income, however the Wife’s health had deteriorated and she was reliant on State benefits.

Although the Husband initially argued that the agreement was binding, he later conceded that it was not, but argued that the Court should attribute it magnetic importance. He offered Holly’s client a lump sum equating to just 3% of the equity in the family home.

On her client’s behalf, Holly argued that the alleged agreement met none of the conditions required by Radmacher v. Granatino in that neither party received legal advice and there was not full disclosure. She sought for the Wife’s housing needs to be met from the equity in the family home.

At the FDR hearing Holly secured a helpful indication in line with the Wife’s position. Following the resulting negotiation, the parties agreed a sale of the family home and for Holly’s client to receive 40% of the net equity.