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Credit Crunch Divorce Review

Tycoon locked in £11m divorce battle reveals second family  

A city tycoon hoping to reduce his £11m divorce settlement has confessed to harbouring a ‘secret common law wife and child’ in the same neighbourhood as his ex-wife.  

Brian Myerson began a landmark case after he went back on the settlement agreed last spring, arguing that the credit crunch had dented his wealth and changed his circumstances. Mr Myerson admitted that he had set up his mistress, Clare Denley, and their son in a house near his then-wife Ingrid and their three children in Hampstead, north London.  
Under the original settlement, he had agreed to pay 43% of the total £25.8m assets of the marriage to Ingrid. But in March this year, Mr Myerson told the Court of Appeal that his investments had been so ravaged by the downturn that if he complied with the terms of his settlement he would be left in the red.   Mr Myerson’s assets largely consisted of his shares in his company which at the time of the agreement were just over £15 million (each share valued at £2.99).  By the date of the appeal, the shares traded at 27.5p.  Rather than having 43% of the assets, Mrs Myerson would in effect have 105.2% of the assets and Mr Myerson -5.2%.  
Mr Myerson said he was an “extremely good husband” and that his ex-wife deserved a fraction of her settlement. “There is a certain class of women today who contribute nothing to the family wealth and then expect 50 per cent on divorce,” he said.  
He said he was “unrepentant” about his double life, adding: “As far as I’m concerned I have done nothing wrong in fact I look at myself as having been a good husband to Ingrid. Like many men, I’ve had a number of extramarital affairs, but since 1998 Clare and I have been together effectively as common law man and wife.” 
The court took the view that the natural change in the share prices did not merit a departure from the original agreement. 
Is this a fair decision?
Cheryl Low, family solicitor at kenneth elliott + rowe comments “Perhaps.  However, it is doubtful if the agreement were reached today whether it would have been the same as it was before.  A severe reduction in the value of family assets is a common scenario for many couples in the current market especially those with large property portfolios. Deals that were struck 12 months or more ago have been undermined by market conditions. However, for some, now is a good time for a divorce while values remain low.”
For further advice on family and divorce matters call Cheryl Low on 01708 707850.

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