Record-breaking divorce settlement was based on tried and tested principles

Fri 12th May 2017

The record-breaking divorce settlement handed down by the High Court this week may seem like another world to most separating couples in Cornwall, but as Karen Pritchard, Family lawyer at Coodes Solicitors explains, whatever the value of the assets, the principles are the same:

The case involving a former London oil and gas trader made the headlines for the huge sums involved and the ruling that his estranged wife should receive a £453 million share of their £1 billion-plus fortune.

While the man had argued that he had a made a “special contribution” to the generation of these substantial marital assets, the Judge found that their wealth had been built up over the course of the marriage through “equal contributions to the welfare of the family, and should be subject to the sharing principle”.

The woman had been a housewife and mother to the couple’s now grown-up children, said the Judge.

The starting point for divorce settlements is an equal division of assets and income including pension provision. This can then be adjusted according to the needs of the parties and any dependent children. Clearly this was not a ‘needs’ case and a division approaching 50:50 was therefore appropriate. In fact the lump sum payable to the wife was 41.5% of the total marital assets.

What is of interest is that this case underlines the English courts’ generosity towards a financially weaker spouse. This is based on the fundamental principle that breadwinners’ and homemakers’ contributions to a marriage are of equal importance.

So given that this was a long marriage of some 20 years, the starting point for a settlement was always going to be an equal sharing of assets and the outcome, while setting a new high in the size of the settlement, should not therefore be a surprise.

For more information or advice on marital or relationship legal issues contact our Family team at Coodes Solicitors on 0800 328 3282.

Fri 12th May 2017

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