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Ruling bans wife from pursuing ex-husband for two years

In a ruling hailed as game-changing, an ex-wife has been told by a judge that she cannot sue her former husband for another two years, following an “obsessive and unjustified” legal campaign she had conducted against him. 

The 59-year-old, a member of the Michelle Young Foundation which helps women secure large settlements from wealthy husbands, had brought numerous claims against her former husband. She went to great lengths to try to gain evidence that he had hidden assets, including tracking his emails and hiring a private investigator who set up a fake job interview to try to ‘expose’ his earnings. 

However, the woman, Mrs Welch, had her claims dismissed by two separate judges before being banned by the High Court from continuing to “persecute” her ex-husband and rack up huge legal costs she will be unable to pay off. 

The court heard Mrs Welch had moved in with the successful businessman, her second husband, in 2007 after meeting him on an online dating website. When they separated in 2013, a district judge ordered the man to pay his wife £1,000-a-month in maintenance and to buy their home with the condition that she could live in it for the rest of her life. 

However she appealed the decision, arguing that her husband had hidden his assets to avoid paying out more. At this time, a judge sitting in Portsmouth called her appearance before him “vengeful, obsessive, irrational, and unjustified”. Furthermore, he upheld the original decision, finding that there was no reason to believe that the husband had not been honest about his financial situation. 

Despite owing £414,000 to her previous solicitors and £70,000 to Mr Welch, Mrs Welch then took the case to the High Court’s Family Division for review. 

At the hearing, Mr Welch told the court that his ex-wife had irreparably damaged his reputation by “constantly harassing” his advisers in an attempt to gather information she could use against him. 

In a judgement released for the first time this week, Mr Justice James Holman rejected her appeal, commenting: “Frankly, this bitter and intense litigation must be closed to the maximum extent possible. It is quite extraordinarily destructive. It is phenomenally expensive.” 

He also issued an extended civil restraint order, which bans Mrs Welch from pursuing the case against her husband for a further two years, as her previous solicitors are still chasing a reduced debt of £150,000. The court heard that her only income is £123 a week in benefits. 

An associate at Gordon Dadds solicitors which acted for Mr Welch, added: “An extended civil restraint order is granted only in extreme circumstances, where a party has persistently issued claims or made applications which are totally without merit. That happened on numerous occasions here over a prolonged period of time.

“The courts have consistently found that my client has nothing to hide yet Mrs Welch has continued to allege material non-disclosure to the courts. She has caused inconceivable financial, emotional, and reputational damage to my client and he welcomes this order.” 

If you’d like more information about divorce proceedings and financial disclosure, please contact specialist family law solicitors James Haworth at Lawson-West on 0116 212 1000.

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