Financial settlements upon divorce – why 50/50 may not be fair

The recent case of a divorcee’s unsuccessful battle to secure half of the parties’ combined assets has again highlighted the question of how financial resources should be divided upon divorce.

In this particular case the pertinent issue was how non-matrimonial property should be dealt with. The non-matrimonial property here was the considerable wealth that the husband already had prior to the relationship. Whereas the former air hostess wife came into the marriage with “no assets, save for a Porsche.”

Karen and John Hart divorced after 20 years of marriage and Mrs Hart was initially awarded £3.5 million which was calculated as the amount required to meet her needs.

She appealed the decision, citing that there was no justification for the resources to be shared unequally. However the Court of Appeal recently rejected her argument and dismissed the appeal.

While Mrs Hart said it was “unfair and discriminatory” that her ex-husband received £5.9 million, Lord Justice Moylan agreed with the first instance Judge that proper weight needed to be given to the husband’s pre-marital wealth. As such an equal division of assets would be unfair.

There is no standard formula for calculating what constitutes appropriate financial provision upon divorce but this case serves as a reminder that there a number of factors that the court will consider. Each situation is different and will be judged on its own unique merits with consideration being given to all the circumstances of the case.

Mr Hart’s contribution was a crucial part of this case, however other significant factors that the court gives consideration to include needs and obligations, earning capacity, duration of marriage, age and standard of living.

To understand what may be a fair settlement in your circumstances, it is important you take advice from a matrimonial specialist who will guide you through the process.

Jayne Boyd is a specialist matrimonial solicitor at Newcastle law firm Sintons. To speak to her about this or any other matter, contact or 0191 226 3692.

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