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Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 34236
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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A few years ago I put some shares in my wife's name, for tax

Resolved Question:

A few years ago I put some shares in my wife's name, for tax efficiency reasons, but continued to have the dividends paid into my account (all with her agreement). Subsequently, we have divorced. In the course of the divorce, no change to the above arrangement was discussed or agreed (I was paying much greater amount in maintenance etc); and our divorce was declared absolute in April, 2012.
She has just written to me to say that I owe her £3000! This is the total of the dividends which have been paid into my account since June 2011, at which time she claims to have written to the company (without reference to me) to tell them to pay all dividends to her. Since I also have shares in this company, I had not noticed that this was happening.
Am I correct in my belief that, since we were still married and negotiating terms for the divorce, she should not have attempted to change the payee of the dividends (if she did), and has no entitlement therefore to any claim pre-dating April, 2012? Secondly, given her obvious negligence in failing to notice or act upon the failure of the company to pay her the dividends since, can she claim the repayment of any of the money?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
What financial agreement was made within the divorce proceedings?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Clare,

There was a split of all financial assets 50:50, including the family house (which was sold), shares, savings etc. My daughter (born April, 1997) chose to live with my ex-wife; my son (born May, 1995) with me. I agreed to pay maintenance to my wife for her and our daughter, because my income was greater than hers. She remarried in January, 2013, since when I have been paying maintenance for our daughter, at 15% of my net salary. My ex-wife was not required to contribute towards the support of my son. This agreement, relating to the payment of these dividends, was not mentioned in the settlement.

During the divorce proceedings, I was very constrained in what I could do financially, all of my assets being effectively frozen until the financial agreement was completed. I do not know if my wife did try to change the arrangement for the payment of dividends on these shares during this period, as she claims. However, given the circumstances prevailing, I would not have agreed to such a change at the time.

As I mentioned, I did not notice that the payments continued after the divorce for some time, as I had shares in the same company. More recently, since I sold those shares, I have noticed some payments but assumed that she had chosen to continue the arrangement for the benefit of our son.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
So the shares are definitely hers - but you were only aware of the overpayment of dividends following the sale of your holding.
When was that?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Clare,

Since the divorce, the shares have been hers.

As part of the settlement, a number of the shares which I held in the company were to be transferred to her. I therefore sold the bulk of my own direct holding, in March 2012, and subsequently (in May or June, 2012) sent her the share certificate for these, and a signed transfer form. I do not know when or if she completed this transfer, so was not surprised at the time to receive a dividend in August, 2012.

Since I also held some of the same company shares in an ISA, it was not until late 2013 that it occurred to me that she appeared to wish to continue making these payments.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Your ex certainly has no claim on any monies which predate the final financial order.
She is however entitled to a refund of all monies received after August 2012, since you were aware that you were no longer entitled to the funds and did not query why they were no longer being paid.
However since she is also liable she cannot insist on a lump sum and you can offer instalment payments
I appreciate that this is not good news - please ask if you need further details
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Claire,

Thank you for your answer. I wonder if you would just clarify two points for me:

1. Does it make any difference, as to my liability, when I discovered the situation of the payments, after August, 2012?

2. How much time can I reasonably take a) to respond to her demand and b) to make the payments?

Best Regards

Marcus

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
1. Possibly - but it would be a weak argument and could antagonise the court of it comes to that
2. Maybe 28 days to respond - and the offer depends on your financial position
Clare
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