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Husband loses appeal against unequal divorce settlement

A husband has lost his appeal against an unequal divorce settlement that gave his wife a greater share of the marital assets.

The couple had separated after 15 years' of marriage due to difficulties caused by the husband's addictive behaviour. The wife remained in their London flat and the husband moved to a rented flat in Monte Carlo.

The judge considered that the matrimonial assets included the London property, three French properties, the husband's shares in several business ventures, and financial investments in the wife's name.

He found that it was not reasonable to expect the wife to work, and that although the husband was unlikely to return to employment until he overcame his addictive behaviour, he was able to manage his investments.

The judge then proceeded on the basis that the husband had $1 million when they had married and that both had made a full and equal contribution to the family welfare.

He divided the assets 54.5% to the wife and 45.5% to the husband, which would be achieved by the wife retaining the London property, dividing the proceeds of sale of the French properties and each retaining the investments in their name.

The judge explained the unequal division on the basis that it was necessary to provide for the wife's needs.  The decision also reflected the husband's conduct that had led to the reckless frittering away of family money and the distress that his addictive behaviour caused to the wife.

The Court of Appeal upheld the decision. It said the judge’s departure from equality could have been justified purely on the basis of the different needs of the husband and the wife. He was also entitled to take into account that the marriage had left the wife with no earning capacity, but the husband remained a shrewd and knowledgeable businessman.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.