Division on divorce is a hot subject. You’ll often hear people say: ‘On divorce, she’ll get half of everything’. Some solicitors have a client gender bias, but I have always had an equal number.
This article about division on divorce should be considered informative, it is not, in any way, intended to suggest what is right or wrong. It simply outlines the current law if the matter proceeds to court. I always act my absolute hardest to affect an excellent division on divorce outcome for my clients. There are ways that an experienced solicitor, depending on the situation, can do this.
When we think of ‘contributions’ in a marriage, we often think of who earns the money. This will usually be the husband because he’s often the provider and she’s often the child carer. Husbands can further their career without the interruption of taking time off work for childcare.
With regards to a division on divorce, current case law awards the wife half unless there is an element of ‘genius’ in how the husband has acquired the enormous wealth. (If the wife were the considerable earner, then the same rule would apply). Will Ant of Ant and Dec be able to retain more than half of his wealth because he and Dec are considered to have an element of genius?
Historically the wife was awarded only what she ‘needed’. In the 1985 case of White v White, the wife’s contribution as a homemaker and primary carer of the children was for the first time considered an equal contribution to the husband’s earnings. Although ‘equal’, subsequent cases awarded the wife one third to 40% of the assets.
The 2017 case of Work v Gray decided that the $225 Million pot should be split equally, there being no ‘special contribution’ to justify a departure from equality. The parties were in their forties, married 23 years, and the husband gained his financial success in Japan. The judge felt that it was extremely important to avoid discrimination against the homemaker, giving the wife huge credit for uprooting herself and the children to Japan.
When, however, the assets are small, and there are children, and the husband is the higher earner, it will often be the husband fighting to get half.
What if the wife (or the husband) takes a back step in their career but still works, does all the household duties and meets the needs of the children (while the other spouse becomes more and more successful financially at work). Would this Superman/Wonderwoman be successful in claiming more than half? No, not under the present law.
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