UK Family Court Orders US Expats to Evenly Divide Marital Fortune Despite Postnuptial Agreement No Challenge Penalty Clause

Husband and Wife are both American born. Husband and Wife began cohabiting in 1992 and married in 1995.

But they moved abroad in 1998 and have lived overseas since, and in the UK since 2008. The couple relinquished their US citizenship years ago to save taxes.

Wife was a mother and homemaker and Husband the breadwinner during the marriage. Wife moved from state to state and from the US to Japan to the UK for Husband’s work.

Husband and Wife executed a postnuptial property settlement agreement in 2000. (A postnup is, in substance, a prenuptial agreement that is made during the marriage rather than before.)

In the postnup, Wife’s share of the couple’s assets was capped at less than half of the marital estate. But if Wife sought more, her entitlement shrank to just 5 million pounds … out of 150 million pounds.

Husband made no secret of the fact that he didn’t think Wife deserved “a penny”. That clearly didn’t help his cause.

The UK has not embraced premarital or postmarital property settlement agreements as readily as the US.

The British family court apparently viewed the agreement as unconscionable based upon the length of the couple’s marriage, the excessive penalty for challenge and its inherent disproportionality.

Interestingly, the British family court reportedly sent signals to the couple (really the Husband) encouraging reaching a fair agreement themselves and ending their very expensive and contentious court battle.

It is also worth noting that the couple’s postnup was made in Texas … at a time when they were living abroad.


  1. this UK Daily Mail news article: Tycoon ‘not willing to pay a penny’ in bitter divorce battle is ordered by judge to give his wife half of his £150million fortune and
  2. this Bloomberg Business news article: Ex-Lone Star Executive to Split Assets After Divorce Ruling .