A ruling by the Court of Appeal is likely to have implications for how assets are divided following brief marriages.
Julie Sharp has successfully overturned a previous ruling, which had found her ex-husband was entitled to half of a substantial fortune.
The 44-year-old, who has forged a successful career as an energy trader, had made the case that a 50/50 split was inappropriate given that their marriage had lasted only four years.
During their time together, the couple had kept their finances separate. Court heard they had parted ways in 2013 after Mrs Sharp found out that her husband had been having “an affair”.
The Court of Appeal ultimately ruled in her favour, reducing her former husband’s settlement to £2million (down from the £2.75million set out at the previous hearing.)
Lord Justice McFarlane, one of three Judges appointed to consider the case, explained why he felt there were grounds to depart from the principle of equal division in this particular case.
“The husband made no contribution to the source of the wife’s bonuses and this is not a case where, save in the final year, the husband is said to have contributed more to the home life or welfare of the family than the wife,” he said.
“This case is, therefore, a ‘non-business partnership, non-family asset case’ where the bulk, indeed effectively all, of the property has been generated by the wife.”
The decision was taken despite the fact that Mr Sharp’s team had argued that taking the length of a marriage into account when determining the settlement could be considered “a retrograde step.”
Rebecca Amboaje, Partner in OGR Stock Denton’s Family team, said “The length of the marriage is just one of the factors the court takes into account when deciding the appropriate award in divorce cases.
“The fact that the court has a very broad discretion means it can assess needs and other factors it considers relevant on a case by case basis to achieve what it considers fair.”