Cheap divorce cost doctor's wife her £3.2million home

By Lenore Rice

A doctor's wife has described how she lost her £3.2million property as a result of trying to cut costs during their divorce.

Norma Wilson was a nurse and a property developer and was married to Dr Peter Wilson who worked for the Ministry of Defence. The couple lived in a five-bedroom mansion near Ascot and their children went to fee-paying schools. After what Miss Wilson describes as an attempt to divorce cheaply, she now lives in a one-bed council flat. She brought a professional negligence claim against her divorce solicitors which they have since settled out of court.

Before the couple divorced they had planned to develop their £3.2million property to create 15 flats complete with leisure facilities and swimming pool. They separated amicably in 2006 and decided to proceed with the development.

Miss Wilson claimed that her divorce solicitor at Herrington & Carmichael suggested they save money on their divorce by settling their financial affairs by agreement. They reached a settlement whereby she would pay £500,000 to her husband for his share in the property and she would then get finance to finish the work and pay him a further sum upon completion of the development.

The £500,000 was paid but the court judge did not approve the settlement they had reached, and she could not get the finance to complete the development work when her husband registered a matrimonial rights restriction over the property. She had to sell the property for £1.9million which almost entirely went to paying off loans and the mortgage.

Miss Wilson brought a professional negligence claim against her solicitors saying that it was not explained to her that the consent order of settlement was worthless without the court's approval. The law firm argued that they had only been asked to draw up the consent order and not to advise on the merits of it or "to protect the claimant". At the end of the hearing the claim was settled on a confidential basis.

If you require legal advice in respect of a separation from a divorce solicitor in Northern Ireland, contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by calling 0800 840 1363.

Or submit your details online and one of our family solicitors will call you back at a time of your convenience.