The popular press has made a great deal of a recent Court of Appeal case, reporting that there had been a significant departure from the general principle that the assets built up by a couple during their marriage are to be split more or less equally on divorce.

In the family court, the judge had divided the couple’s assets ‘down the middle’, awarding a wealthy trader’s husband £2.75m of total assets of £5.45m. This led to a challenge by the wife, who had earned the large majority of the money.

On appeal, the husband’s settlement was reduced to the ownership of one of the couple’s two houses plus £900,000 as a lump sum. The total value of his settlement was £2m. His ex-wife was also required to pay £80,000 of his £200,000 legal costs.

The reality is that the circumstances of the case were unusual and also that there have been a number of departures from the equality principle.

In the case in point, the marriage was very short (only six years), the couple had no children and they had maintained their finances completely separately during their marriage.

Furthermore, the wife in this case had received massive bonuses during the time they were married in her role as a trader in the wholesale fuel market.

In his commentary on the ruling of Lord Justice McFarlane, Lord Justice McCombe said, "…statute directs attention to a wide variety of criteria for resolution of matrimonial finance problems, one of which is expressly the duration of the marriage. The principle of equality obviously properly applies to the vast majority of cases as the House of Lords cases have decided, but (not) to the small minority," adding that the facts in this case were ‘confined’.

Source: News feed

2 responses to “Equality of Division of Assets on Divorce Abolished? Hardly

  1. If the marriage is a lengthy marriage of 18years,, the husband’s gross annual income is £80,000 , the wife’s gross annual income is £25000. Children are 17years and 12years of age, then how much spouce maintainance will the agreed by the court?

    1. Dear Shalini, thank you for your comment. Unfortunately we cannot advise on specific circumstances or cases. However you will see from our blogs regarding spousal maintenance that determining the level and term of spousal maintenance largely depends on the needs of the receiving party and the financial means of the paying party. I recommend that you seek independent legal advice from a Resolution specialist family lawyer.

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