In this article, we’ll discuss about the impact of Edgar versus Edgar in Family Law along with the outcome of the case.
Agreements between parties about the division of assets upon divorce financial settlements are sometimes referred to as “Edgar Agreements”.
Such an agreement is made when the parties separate (prior to starting divorce proceedings) with the intention that the terms of that agreement will be binding on them when they divorce in the future.
The name of these agreements originates from the case of Edgar v Edgar which concerned a married couple who had separated and upon separation they had entered into an agreement which provided that the wife would receive a sum of money in order to rehouse herself and the children. The wife had agreed that in the future (when the parties did divorce) she would not seek further monies or any property transfer order from the husband.
A separation deed was then drafted in these terms and was signed by both parties.
Once the wife petitioned for divorce some years later and then applied for a financial order arising from the divorce it was argued by the husband that the wife should be bound by the terms of the separation deed.
The judge at first instance decided that the deed of separation could be ignored and the judge made an order that the husband pay a further lump sum to the wife.
The husband appealed against the order and the Court of Appeal then considered the matter.
Lord Justice Ormrod in the court of appeal said the following:-
To decide what weight should be given in order to reach a just result, to a prior agreement not to claim a lump sum, regard must be had to the conduct of both parties, leading up to the prior agreement, and to their subsequent conduct, in consequence of it … Important too is the general proposition that, formal agreements, properly and fairly arrived at with competent legal advice, should not be displaced unless there are good and substantial grounds for concluding that an injustice will be done by holding the parties to the terms of their agreement.
The outcome of the case was that Court of Appeal allowed the husband’s appeal and the wife’s claims were dismissed.
The family law case of Edgar v Edgar therefore illustrates that the court will in certain circumstances be willing to make an order in the terms of a previous agreement reached between the parties provided there has been full financial disclosure, independent legal advice for both parties and no duress, misrepresentation, undue pressure, exploitation of a dominant position or unforeseen circumstances were overlooked when the agreement was made.
Of course, the impact of Edgar v Edgar in family law (where relevant) is very important when considering the division of financial assets upon divorce and so professional advice should always be sought.