Law lords tell wife: Get off MacLeod

AN Isle of Man-based millionaire businessman has said he felt justice had been done after law lords upheld his case in a bitter divorce battle.

Rod MacLeod, 64, who is worth 14 million and his wife Marcia, 42, agreed a pre-nup when they married in Florida on Valentine's Day in 1994.

The couple moved to the Isle of Man the following year, after which they had five sons together but divorced following 10 years of marriage.

His estranged wife, in a test challenge taken to the Privy Council, claimed 5.6 million as against the 2 million agreed in her pre-nuptial settlement but the senior judges ruled against her, and found the post-nuptial agreement was 'valid and enforceable'.

The five senior judges have given a green light to post-nuptial contracts agreed by married couples as to who owns what – but left the issue of pre-nuptial contracts for Parliament.

Mr MacLeod, who hails originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and made his fortune from a cable television business, lives in Ravensdale Castle, Ballaugh, while his ex-wfie moved last year to Ballacain House in Onchan.

Mr MacLeod told the Examiner: 'I'm happy for our sons, who will be the beneficiaries of this ruling by which value will be preserved for my estate and feel that justice has at last been done.

'But it's been a long painful journey for our family, and I'm glad it's over.

'At the same time, I hope it serves as one more step along the road to finding a way to agree financial matters in divorce without requiring the sort of ordeal we have been put through. But we still need new legislation regarding pre-nups themselves.

'Just wait until Zara or JK Rowling or some other beloved icon gets the short end of the stick without an enforceable pre-nup, then we'll see Parliament take some action!'

The court heard that the couple were both born and brought up in the States and there was a 22-year age difference between them. When they married, there was also a considerable wealth difference between them.

The couple made three agreements in the course of their relationship, the first was made before their marriage but on their wedding day.

Deputy Deemster Williamson found that there had been adequate legal advice and disclosure and that the wife was acting voluntarily and under no pressure.

A second agreement was made in 1997 but lapsed at the end of 1998. A third agreement, made by deed in July 2002 confirmed the 1994 agreement but made substantial variations to it.

The schedule to the agreement listed the husband's assets at a total of 13,810,000 and the wife's at 184,000 – mostly consisting of her half share in Dove's Hill, a property close to Ravensdale Castle they bought in joint names in 2001.

The variation made certain provisions for the wife in order to help 'secure her financial future, whilst continuing with the marriage'.

But the marriage was already on the rocks and the husband issued divorce proceedings in 2003.

In addition to the 2m called for by the modified pre-nup, Deputy Deemster Williamson granted outright to Mrs MacLeod an additional 1,250,000 so that she could provide housing for herself and the boys during the half time they were with her.

The Privy Council backed Mr MacLeod's argument that this extra money should go in trust and come back to his estate rather than being an increase over what she was to receive under the modification to the pre-nup.

The case went to the Privy Council as the final court of appeal from the Isle of Man.

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