Is my ex-wife entitled to any of my newly acquired inheritance?

When my wife and I divorced two years ago there was no financial settlement or court order made. I have recently sold my business and inherited money. Can she still claim anything from me?

Question: My wife and I were married 30 years. She left me and I have since discovered that she was having an affair for seven years with my best friend. The divorce was a couple of years ago and we went our separate ways. We had no children. We did not use divorce lawyers and there was no financial settlement or court order. I have done very well financially recently as I have sold my business and inherited money from my father. Can my ex-wife claim anything from me? I'd be very upset if she could.

Answer: In principle your wife can pursue claims for income and capital unless she has since remarried, in which case her entitlement is automatically extinguished. Assuming she has not remarried the chances are that her behaviour will not be relevant, if and when the judge considers her application, should she make one. This is because it is only in exceptional circumstances that conduct is considered, and hers is unlikely to be relevant.

One point that may be of importance is what is called "post-separation accrual". You may be able to argue that any assets acquired long after you separated should be ringfenced from any ultimate distribution — but remember that the object of the exercise, so far as the court is concerned, is to achieve a fair solution.

Obviously, you should not take any action that will stir up a hornet's nest but if your ex-wife approaches you in any way about these matters, it is essential that you obtain independent legal advice from an appropriately accredited resolution specialist.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a partner in the residential property, farms and estates team at Withy King LLP ( 

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