You might have seen in the press the case of Sharp and Sharp 2017.
This involved a couple in their early 40s, who were childless with lucrative careers and their relationship had endured six years. In the early years together they had similar basic salaries of around £100k, but towards the end of the relationship, the wife received discretionary annual bonuses of £10.5 million. Then in the last year of the marriage, the husband took voluntary redundancy.
There is a principle in Family Law that the ‘matrimonial assets’ should be shared. The definition of matrimonial assets is not by any means precise but generally includes the family home and any other assets built up during the marriage, not gifted or inherited.
This principle was followed by the judge who first heard this case. However, on appeal, the court took the view that the husband should not share in his wife’s bonuses and his share of the matrimonial pot was therefore limited to just £2 million. This was made up of a 50% share in the properties jointly owned by the couple and £700,000 to reflect the standard of living he enjoyed during the marriage, the need for a modest capital fund to live in the property he retained and some share in the assets held by the wife.
As a family lawyer, this decision is at odds with what generally would have been predicted and I just wonder if the genders of the parties had an impact on the judge’s final decision?
However, if your relationship is short, childless and you can establish that your capital was kept separate and not mingled with the family finances, you now have a very useful precedent to rely upon as to why your spouse should not share in the fruits of your labour.
If you want to discuss this case or any other family matter, please contact Gemma Gillespie on 01892 515022.