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Source: BBC News

A woman who faced losing her divorce settlement after her ex-husband went bankrupt has won a test case.

Wendy Haines, 43, was awarded the proceeds of the sale of a detached five-bedroom farmhouse near Stourport, Worcestershire, in December 2004.

But when her husband David went bankrupt a year later, the bankruptcy trustees persuaded the High Court to declare the settlement void.

The Appeal Court ruling means Ms Haines will now receive her £120,000 share. But the bankruptcy trustees have said they will seek a judgement from the House of Lords.

'Encourage bankruptcy'

The case centred around the matrimonial home of Strudges Farm, in the village of Dunhampton.

Lord Justice Rix, giving his ruling at the Court of Appeal, said it would be "unfortunate in the extreme" if a settlement approved in a divorce court could be undone for up to five years because the husband goes bankrupt.

"That could even encourage such bankruptcy on the part of a disaffected husband," he said.

Lord Justice Thorpe said the objective of the divorce settlement was to provide the mother with the means to look after herself and her daughter.

If the bankruptcy trustees' claim was allowed to stand, the effect would be to deprive mother and child of that security.

Avtar Kanghure QC, representing Mrs Haines, had told the judges last month: "The risk of abuse by disgruntled husbands who deliberately incur substantial debt with the express purpose of defeating the matrimonial court's order is obvious."

The couple, who had owned a garage business in Kidderminster, Worcestershire. have one child, born in 1997.

They married in 1991 and separated in 2003.