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Man told he can’t use bankruptcy to avoid payments to former wife

A court has annulled a man’s bankruptcy order after the judge heard he had assets or more than a million pounds and simply wanted to avoid paying maintenance to his wife.

During the divorce proceedings the wife had obtained an order for interim maintenance. The husband then successfully issued a petition for his own bankruptcy saying that he was unable to meet his debts.

The wife immediately applied for the order to be annulled because she believed it was simply a device to enable him to avoid paying maintenance. After a long and complicated hearing, the judge questioned the husband’s honesty and agreed to annul the order.

The husband then took the case to the Court of Appeal but it too ruled against him after hearing that at the time he petitioned for bankruptcy, he had assets of £1.2m and debts of only £136,000. The court held that with such substantial assets, the onus was on him to prove that he was unable to pay his debts.

He had not been able to do this and so the judge at the original hearing had been right to conclude that the husband was able to pay his debts at the time he was petitioning for bankruptcy. His motive had simply been to defeat his wife’s maintenance claim and so the decision to annul the bankruptcy had been correct.

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