News has broken this week that divorced lottery millionaire Nigel Page has paid £2 million to his ex wife Wendy after scooping £56 million on the Euromillions jackpot this year. That is despite her leaving him for another man in 2000. It is alleged she had wanted a greater sum than that when she started legal proceedings. The settlement was agreed out of court and is thought to be have been so as avoid the need to pay out a greater lump sum. Mr Page had offered his wife £1 million but it is understood that she had rejected this in the hope that she could claim £8 million. This offer was put forward by her legal team.
In addition to the lump sum it is believed that significant monthly maintenance payments have been made in respect of the 13 year old daughter that the parties have.
This case will no doubt send shock waves out. It is understood that a gagging order is part of the settlement but it seems highly likely that the parties did not include a legally binding ‘clean break’ arrangement when they divorced. As such financial claims against each other remained open.
If, on divorce, you do not make a ‘clean break’ agreement in respect of financial claims both parties may be able to claim against the other in the future, should a change in financial circumstances occur, i.e., should one of you win the lottery or obtain a financial windfall. In order to make a clean break financial settlement it is necessary for both parties to consent to such a settlement or alternatively, you may apply to the court for such a settlement if it cannot be agreed.
If an order is not made then claims that you have against each other remain open. Essentially, they can be brought by either of you at a later date. The fact that many years pass and circumstances change does not act as a bar to future claims.
Headlines about ex spouses returning to the courts for settlements when the other comes into money from a windfall or significant inheritance etc seem common place these days and the only way to protect against this is to ensure that finances are finalised and not left open. If there are no finances to resolve at the time of divorce then a ‘clean break’ order can still be sought in order to prevent future claims.
It is believed that this is the first time that a lottery winner has been successfully sued by an ex for a share of their windfall but will it be the last?
Mr Page has learned this lesson the hard way.