Can you claim that your in-laws should support your ex-spouse after divorce?

2 August, 2017

A wife’s family fortune should be taken into account when her divorce settlement is decided, her ex-husband has claimed.

Hossam Radwan, a former Goldman Sachs banker, is arguing he should not have to provide his wife, Hayat Alireza, with funds to buy a new home as part of their divorce settlement because her father is a ‘remarkably wealthy man.’

Ms Alireza’s father, a Saudi businessman, is estimated to be worth around £500m and, under Saudi laws on succession, Ms Alireza will inherit one fifth of his fortune when he dies, making her a ‘multi-millionaire in her own right.’

In a High Court ruling in 2015, Mrs Justice Roberts accepted Mr Radwan’s offer, which took into account Ms Alireza’s future inheritance and consisted of a £2m lump sum whilst further allowing her to remain in their matrimonial property, next to the Royal Albert Hall in Central London, until her father died.

Ms Alireza is now appealing this decision in the Court of Appeal. She is seeking a further £5.5m so that she can buy a new home for herself. Ms Alireza claims that it is ‘unfair’ to expect her father to take financial responsibility for her when her ex-husband is also worth a fortune. Her barrister argues that “there is no principle that a wife should become the responsibility of her birth family upon divorce.”

English divorce law does not distinguish between inherited assets and matrimonial assets and, as a general rule, the court will consider all property and financial resources that each party has, or is likely to have in the foreseeable future. In certain circumstances a court can dip into inherited assets if the needs of either party requires it.

In this case, there is clearly a question mark as to how foreseeable Ms Alireza’s inheritance really is as her father, who is currently in his 70’s and likely to receive the best medical care available, may well have a long life expectancy.

Lady Justice Gloster, Lord Justice Lewison and Lady Justice King, will hand down their judgment at a later date and it will be interesting to see what weight is given to Ms Alireza’s inheritance.

If you would like further information on the contents of this post, or any aspect of family law, contact Katy-Louise Allen on 01892 506 305 or email katy-louise.allen@crippspg.co.uk