Not always 50-50 on Divorce
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.
A 50-50 split is the starting point in all divorce, but is not always the finishing point.
Here the marriage was short ( six years), the couple had no children and they had maintained their finances completely separately during their marriage.
The Appeal Judge 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 all)’.
Whilst there are general legal principles which apply in all areas of law, the specific facts and the quality of the legal representation are crucial determinants of the final decision.”
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