Reopening a Divorce Settlement Agreement

There was a case of interest recently reported in which one party to a divorce settlement (wife) asked the court to reopen the settlement, seeking to change the settlement terms. It is interesting, at least in part, because the one seeking to re-open the case and change the settlement agreement received some $15 million dollars in the settlement. Unsurprisingly, the wife has alleged that, very shortly after the settlement was agreed to and finalized, husband came into a disproportionately larger financial gain on the sale of a business interest he owned.

What makes the case slightly less interesting, at least in the legal sense, but even in that sense only slightly less interesting, is that the case is reported from Australia. A recurring theme in this space has been that the way that the law changes and evolves now is very different from how that used to happen. It is not just how rapidly the law now changes that is different, though it seems clear that the pace is much faster now than it was in the past. It is also the source of change and the readiness/willingness of authorities to accept sources and adopt changes is very different than it was in the pre-Internet/social-media/twitter-verse days. From all over the world now come these sources and this information, often followed instantaneously by both popular and critical support for a new idea, a different model, or even an all new paradigm.

Factually, the Australian parties finalized their divorce by agreement on April 27, 2015. Subsequently, it was revealed that “on or before April 16, 2015,” the husband had made inquiries about making a public offering on his business interests. He and his partners made the final decision to go public on May 1, 2015, four days after the divorce was finalized. The public offering produced some $93 million dollars for the husband. Wife, of course, has said that she knew nothing of this potential public offering and the anticipated pay-off it would yield. Accordingly, she now want the court to open the judgment so she can share in the $93 million dollar pay-day to husband.

Full disclosure is a vitally important aspect of any divorce settlement. It will be interesting to see if the Australian court agrees with husband that he was under no duty to provide any greater disclosure to wife than he did. Even without $93 million at issue, anyone negotiating or litigating a divorce settlement you should consult an experienced family law attorney before the matter is finalized.

To schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys or for further information, call us at the Law Office of Gregory P. LaMonaca, P.C., at (610) 892-3877.

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About the author

About Lawrence Welsh

Lawrence C. (Larry) Welsh joined the firm in 2003 after five years of practice with the Delaware County Public Defender’s Office. Native to Lansdowne in Delaware County where he attended public schools, Larry graduated from St. Joseph’s College (in its pre-University days) and taught school briefly before entering the hospitality industry and working his way through hotels, restaurants and resorts in four states and the District of Columbia. As a graduate of Villanova University School of Law, Larry now focuses primarily on the firm’s family law practice along with other areas of the Law. Larry handles a full range of domestic relations matters throughout the five-county southeastern Pennsylvania area and looks forward to expanding the firm’s practice, especially in the family-law field, into New Jersey where he is one of three members of the firm (along with Gregory P. LaMonaca and Christopher R. Mattox) admitted to practice.