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Wife wins appeal against equal shares divorce settlement

A wife has won her appeal against a divorce settlement that gave her husband an equal share of the marital assets.

 

The case involved a couple whose relationship, including cohabiting and marriage, lasted six years. They had no children.

 

At the start of their relationship they both earned around £100,000 a year, but during the marriage the wife received bonuses totalling £10.5m, while the husband's bonuses were trivial. Before they married they bought a property in joint names for £1.02m with funds provided exclusively by the wife.

 

During the marriage, they bought a second property in joint names for £2m.

 

The wife argued that a divorce settlement based on sharing was not appropriate once the husband's needs were met, because it had been a short marriage and they had kept their finances separate.

 

However, the judge ruled against her. He held that the sharing concept applied as the couple had not chosen to opt out by entering into a prenuptial agreement. The total matrimonial assets at the time of the hearing were worth £6.9m but that figure was discounted by the judge to reflect the value of the first property and other pre-acquired assets. Therefore, the total was £5.45m, of which the judge awarded the husband half.

 

The Court of Appeal has overturned that decision. It held that the House of Lords ruling in the prominent case of Miller v Miller justified a relaxation of the sharing principle because it had been a short, dual-career, childless marriage, and the couple had kept their finances separate.

 

The husband was awarded a total settlement of £2m.

 

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