Posted by Simon Bassett, Partner
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American couple’s post-nuptial agreement disregarded by High Court Judge
The UK divorce courts have ordered an American businessman to pay £72.3million to his wife.
Randy Work, a former executive at Lone Star Funds, a Texas-based private equity firm, had tried to argue that his wife, Mandy Gray, was only entitled to £5million.
He cited the terms of a post-nuptial agreement previously negotiated in America, which would have limited the amount she could receive to the value of the property that was deemed to be her own.
But this month, Judge Edward Holman ruled that the case would be treated as a British divorce.
Under UK law, neither pre-nuptial nor post-nuptial agreements are legally binding, although some weight has occasionally been attached to the arrangements in previous divorce settlements.
The Court had heard that whilst the couple had met in California, they had both given up their US citizenship to limit exposure to global tax regimes. Mr Work was currently holding Irish citizenship, while his wife was a citizen of St Kitts and St Nevis, in the West Indies.
Mr Work had argued that he should be entitled to the lion’s share of his fortune, because it was his exceptional business skills that had made the couple rich.
Judge Holman, sitting in the High Court’s Family Division, rejected the argument and found that Ms Gray had made considerable sacrifices during their 20 year marriage.
“It would, in my view, be unsatisfactory and gender discriminatory now to make an unequal award,” said the Judge.
The £72.3m will have to be paid in two lump sums.
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