Divorcee must pay for ex's debts

In the second case of its kind, divorcee Vivienne Avis may be forced to sell the home she has lived in for over 20 years due to the bankruptcy of her husband.

A Court of Appeal confirmed a High Court ruling that Ms Avis may not be able to stay on in her home if her husband has to sell the his third share of the property to fund his creditors.

Previously, in Britain and Northern Ireland, divorced wives have been allowed to remain in the marital home until their children were grown, they remarried or began to cohabit with another partner.

Yet Lord Justice John Chadwick ruled: "The interests of the bankrupt's creditors outweigh all other considerations unless the circumstances of the case are exceptional," meaning that a previous agreement made when the couple divorced in 1985 was void.

Michael Pratt, solicitor for Mrs Avis, said: "My client is obviously devastated by this decision. We did not accept that the bankruptcy trustees can force her to sell, because under the divorce settlement she had a right to stay in the house for the rest of her life. But we have lost on that point."

Mr Pratt said he hoped because the trustees had taken 18 years to pursue his client, it might be considered as an exceptional case.

Following a similar case in May, which ruled that Wendy Pearl Haines would have to move out of her property due to her husband's debts, at least 20 per cent of the 120,000 people who will file for bankruptcy this year could be affected.

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