British Court Allows “Second Bite at the Cherry” in Divorce Case

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Among the terrifying things that have happened in Britain recently is this decision by a court ordering Dennis North to give his ex-wife an additional 202,000 pounds (which I think is a lot of money) as a lump-sum maintenance payment.  Mr. North has a lot of money, it’s true, but there are some reasons to think that this was not a particularly fair decision:

  • The parties had already reached a settlement by which she got the house and a significant amount of income from rents on other properties that Mr. North owned.
  • She cheated on him.
  • She left to be with the other man, leaving Mr. North to care for their three children.
  • Let’s see, there was something else . . .
  • Oh — they were divorced in 1978.

Not only have they been divorced for almost thirty years — due to her adultery — she decided in 1999 to move to Australia and (according to Mr. North’s attorney) to live in "one of the most desirable and expensive areas of Sydney and to live beyond her means . . . ."  She seems to have conceded that she needs more money now because she lost what she had previously due to some "unfortunate" investments.  Still, the panel of judges decided that a provision in the 1981 settlement awarding her "nominal maintenance payments" could be enforced now to justify an award of 202,000 pounds.

"The whole purpose of divorce is to disentangle people so they can lead independent lives," said Mr. North’s attorney.  The fact that he has prospered since then and she has not "cannot be relevant."  Surprisingly, Mrs. North’s attorney disagreed.  "This was not a second bite at the cherry, but it is what are her reasonable needs.  The court was entitled to take into account the obvious wealth of the former husband."  Do they not have apples in England?  If cherries are really where this saying originated, then British people must have teeny-tiny mouths.  Maybe Americans just take bigger bites of things, in the same way that we do everything else better than the British except for running an empire.

Mr. North, his current wife, the two children they have had together and the three children the former Mrs. North bailed on will now have to scrape by on the remaining assets, currently estimated at between 5 and 11 million pounds — at least until the former Mrs. North comes back for a third bite at the cherry.

Link: Daily Mail