• On Tuesday the Court of Appeal ruled that a husband was not entitled to an equal division of the matrimonial assets upon the breakdown of their two year childless marriage. The parties’ were worth approximately £5.45m when the marriage came to an end with the bulk of the wealth being generated by the wife’s bonuses.

    The lower court found that the husband should receive half of the wealth upon divorce. The wife appealed on the basis that the bulk of the marital assets had been generated by her and throughout the marriage the husband and wife kept their financial resources entirely separate, even occasionally splitting restaurant bills. The Court of Appeal agreed with the wife’s argument and cut the husband’s total payout to £2m.

    On divorce, family lawyers will often advise that the starting point is an equal division of the assets unless there is a significant reason, such as the needs of one party or the children, to depart from equality. This ruling adds further reasons why the sharing principle may not apply. However, Lord Justice McFarlane hearing the case advised that this case was one of the “very small number” where a departure from an equal division of the assets is justified.

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