There have been very few cases in which the court has been faced with a somewhat unattractive argument that because someone is suffering from cancer, and has a reduced life expectancy, their claims should somehow be limited by reason of their condition. Thankfully that argument was soundly rejected by the court when considering the circumstances of this case. The wife’s case was put on the basis of her having earned her entitlement to a share of the assets amassed by the husband of which she had been entirely unaware when she walked away from an unhappy marriage several years ago, when she was completely unaware that the husband had any resources.
It was only when she sought our advice that the fact that he had very substantial pensions came to light, and tragically at the same time she found that cancer had taken hold. By digging into the partial information, the true extent of the husband’s wealth was revealed, and he was persuaded by negotiation to release some lump sums to her during the course of the case. By the time of the final hearing, the husband’s case was that because of a limited life expectancy, the wife should have only a modest maintenance order to last for her life, leaving the husband with his pension, which he suggested would last far longer.
The court did not accept this argument. The changes in the budget giving access to pensions was very helpful, as was a more optimistic diagnosis, but the court treated this case as any other with a wife having an entitlement to a share of the wealth created during the marriage.
So let’s hope that rather unattractive argument will not be raised again, and that cancer sufferers can be encouraged to claim at their time of greatest need the financial provision to which they are entitled.
For furhter information, please contact our solicitors in Exeter on 01392 421777.