After a two-year legal battle, art lecturer Rupert Ashmore has finally agreed to pay his ex-partner, Kim Woodward, the sum of £275,000.
But this comes after Mr Ashmore was branded ’callous and selfish’ by a district judge, having heard the man’s claim that his partner of 25 years was a mere ’lodger’ in their home.
The couple met when Ms Woodward was a 19-year-old design student at Salisbury College of Art in 1985, and Mr Ashmore an art lecturer. He was 36 years of age, and reportedly drove a Jaguar.
Despite the fact that they subsequently moved in together, founded a design business and had a child together, when they separated in 2010, Mr Ashmore told the court that his ex was not entitled to anything. The house they lived in was in his sole name, and he described her as being an ’assistant’ in their design business, with whom he was simply having an affair.
Judge Mark Ball was not impressed with Mr Ashmore, calling his submission that he did not love Ms Ashmore and instead thought of her merely as an employee “wholly unconvincing and not in the least persuasive".
Ms Woodward had contended that they were business partners. Futhermore, she had played a vital role in making a home and raising their child, now grown up: a son called Jack.
In the Barnstaple County Court in 2013, Judge Ball awarded Ms Woodward a half share of the property Leworthy Barton, having concluded that it was “matrimonial” in nature, and funded in part by the business that they ran together.
Mr Ashmore then appealed to the Court of Appeal, where he argued that his former partner should not receive “a penny”. But Sir Terence Etherton disagreed, finding this to be a “strange proposition” after a 25 year relationship.
Eventually the couple settled out of court, with Ms Woodward accepting the £275,000 for her share in the property.
While Ms Woodward eventually got a settlement of sorts, this case serves as another cautionary tale for cohabitants, that they will not automatically receive the same rights as married couples, even after a long relationship.