Are assets divided equally on divorce?
The short answer is no – in short childless marriages where both parties have good careers that may not be the case.
The justification for equal division of assets is explored by the Court of Appeal in the case of Sharp (2017 EWCA CIV408).
Both parties were in their early 40s and had no children. The marriage and cohabitation lasted for six years. Both were reasonably well paid but Mrs Sharp was a trader and had received bonuses of £10.5 million during the marriage!
The marital assets on divorce amounted to £5.45 million. Mrs Sharp also had a house worth £1.1million and £350,000 of assets which were pre-marital. Mr Sharp conceded she could keep these and they did not form part of the marital assets.
The case came before Sir Peter Singer in the High Court and he said that the absence of a prenuptial agreement meant that an equal division of the marital assets of £5.45 million was the right outcome.
The Court of Appeal disagreed. They said in short childless marriages fairness could mean a departure from equality. Mr Sharp’s claim was limited to £2 million and Mrs Sharp kept the rest.
The fact that there was no prenuptial agreement was not a material factor. However, had there been a pre-nup there would have been much more clarity and less likelihood of the case ever ending up in the High Court or the Court of Appeal.
For more information about financial settlements on divorce or pre and post nuptial settlements contact Kim Beatson.