A landmark divorce case could see asset splits in the UK fall under much needed scrutiny.
Energy trader Julie Sharp, 44, built up a multi-million company whilst married to her partner. However when the marriage went bust a mere four years later, she fought tooth and nail to prevent him from getting more millions than he deserved.
She successfully argued against a ruling that states that her husband, Robin Sharp, was entitled to half her fortune, stating “because this was a short marriage he should not get half of the matrimonial pot.”
The Court of Appeal surprised everyone by ruling in her favour. Her husband, who was initially after £2.725million of Sharpe’s fortune, ended up receiving £2million.
Leading divorce lawyers have warned that this case has marked a “sea change” in how assets are split upon divorce. Alex Carruthers, a partner at Hughes Fowler Carruthers, commented: “There was previously no legal distinction between a ‘short’ and a ‘long’ marriage, and therefore no defined point after which wealth generated should be shared.
“It was an area in which we had a pretty rigid rule. Now there is a caveat; in certain circumstances, we do not follow it.
“It creates a further issue for divorcing couples to bicker about, and for lawyers to profit from.”
“This case is, therefore, a ‘non-business partnership, non-family asset case'”
Julie and Robin had been married for four years, both had their own lucrative careers, and kept their finances separate the entire time.
One of the judges presiding over the case, Lord Justice McFarlane, said: “The husband made no contribution to the source of the wife’s bonuses and this is not a case where, save in the final year, the husband is said to have contributed more to the home life or welfare of the family than the wife.
“This case is, therefore, a ‘non-business partnership, non-family asset case’ where the bulk, indeed effectively all, of the property has been generated by the wife.”