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Man gets pay-out to former wife reduced by £1m

A husband who had inherited a large estate has succeeded in the getting his divorce settlement to his wife reduced by £1m.

In giving its decision, the Court of Appeal held that judges should be cautious and not "invade inherited property unnecessarily".

The case involved a couple who had been married for two years and had two children aged 20 and 17.

Before the marriage, the husband had inherited a large estate worth approximately £20m and this provided the couple with most of their income.

At trial, the judge said that the main principles to follow in achieving a fair settlement were need, compensation and sharing. He took into account that most of the husband’s wealth had been inherited and ordered him to pay a lump sum of £8m to his wife.

The husband then took the case to the Court of Appeal, which pointed out that several factors including need and sharing had to be taken into account to achieve a just settlement.

However, it held that in this case, the fact that the wealth was inherited justified it being treated differently than if it had been earned by the joint efforts of the husband and wife.

The court held that in considering the sharing of inherited wealth, there was no formula that would provide the right answer in all cases. Weighing the various conflicting factors and getting the balance right was an art rather than a science.

It held that, to be fair to both parties, the settlement should be reduced by £1m to £7m. That would strike the right balance between the needs of the wife and the resources of the husband.

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