Mature Divorcees Most Likely To Squander Funds During Divorce Act Quickly On Reckless Spending Sprees, Says Lawyer


The Law Of... agreeing a fair divorce settlement

Protect the joint bank account in the early stages of divorce, or be prepared to lose out if your ex goes on a spending spree with the joint credit card, a lawyer has warned.

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Family lawyer, James Skinner from Simpson Millar solicitors has issued the warning after a number of clients have complained about the sudden reckless spending habits of their spouse during divorce proceedings.

Historically, a husband or wife could demand that dissipated funds were added back into the matrimonial asset pot – an avenue which James says has been made incredibly unlikely by a high profile case.

"I have seen numerous divorce cases where one party goes off on a spending spree before a settlement is reached – squandering shared funds on fast women, slow horses and expensive holidays."

In the case of MAP v MFP 2015, a husband, father and successful property developer squandered a six-figure sum at the end of a 40-year marriage. When his wife demanded that the money should be considered his part of the settlement and essentially be 'put back into proceedings', the judge instead pointed out that she should have known about her husband’s flawed character and kept a closer eye on their finances. It is this case which has set an unfortunate precedent for some, says James.

He warns that MAP v MFP 2015 has made it harder for divorcing couples to argue for an 'add-back' – succeeding only when they can prove that any excessive spending has been reckless and wanton.

"Once the money is gone it’s gone. That’s now the position of the family courts and some might see that as a green light to squander shared fortunes in the immediate months and weeks before a divorce is finalised. My advice to anyone who has recently separated but still have joint access to funds is to very quickly divide the money and agree what is considered reasonable use of assets."

James says the issue is becoming especially prevalent amongst mature couples whose children have left home, or who might not have anyone depending on them. According to the Office for National Statistics, the greatest rise in divorce last year was among the 50-64 year olds.

"If I can’t have it, neither can they; that’s becoming the attitude amongst some couples – especially those in the older age brackets who no longer have children living at home. These people are, in my experience, the most likely to suddenly go on a spending spree and become reckless with shared monies."

"If emotions are running high during a time of separation, it may even be sensible to tell the bank that there is a dispute between joint account holders and have the money frozen until it can be divided up in a civil manner."

"Anyone who thinks there is an threat of dissipation of shared funds should take urgent legal advice."

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