Wednesday, 14 June 2017

How Assets should be Split on a Short Marriage Divorce

I put together an accumulator: Boris would have a haircut, Theresa May would win Maidenhead  and the Court of Appeal would decide that the shortness of a marriage would justify disapplying the usual practice of dividing assets equally between the parties when the relationship breaks down. But I forgot to go to the betting shop which was a pity because that is exactly what the Court of Appeal did decide yesterday.

But before you get carried away, let me tell you that yesterday's decision * will only apply in a very limited number of cases. Here were the ingredients for the wife's successful appeal against an order which would have split the assets equally after they she and her husband had been together for just six years which included 18 months of premarital cohabitation. Apart from the short marriage, there were no children, both parties worked and they maintained their separate finances and the wife had been paid some £10.5 m in bonuses by her employers during the marriage. If you reckon you are in the wrong job, apply to become  trader in the wholesale fuel trade. It's unlikely that all those factors or the equivalent of some of them will be present in many other cases. However, I foresee the argument being advanced in future that a short marriage plus no children plus a much greater contribution to the assets by one party as against the other would justify a departure from a 50-50 split.

Incidentally, the same principle will apply on the ending of a civil partnership and the Court of Appeal made clear yesterday that the more fact that one party has committed adultery will have no impact on the decision of the court on how the assets are divided.

In place of an award to the husband of £2.725m, the husband collected £2m.

You will find plenty about finances on the end of a relationship and how not to get stitched up by the other party in my book Breaking Law. And there's  draft pre-nuptial agreement in there too.

* The case was JS v RS [2017] EWCA Civ 408