In response to the increasing challenge of Coronavirus and in light of rapidly evolving advice, Tozers has taken steps to ensure that we continue to provide you with our usual client service whilst also maintaining the safety of our clients and colleagues. Please see our full update here.

Complete the form below to ask us a question or make an enquiry. We’ll get back to you via phone or email as soon as possible.

Insights

Stellar Contributions in Divorce Settlements

Posted on 16th May 2017 in Family Law

Posted by

Ricky Noble

Paralegal
Stellar Contributions in Divorce Settlements

Something which is being reported more and more frequently in the media are high value divorce cases in which one party seeks to argue a “stellar contribution”.

Former Manchester United player Ryan Giggs will, according to the Guardian, argue that he should be awarded more than half of the £40m fortune he shares with his wife because of his special contribution or “stroke of genius”.

Very recently however, in an anonymous case, a family court judge has awarded the wife of an oil and gas trader over 40% of the total marital assets in the sum of £453.5m, despite the husband’s case that the wealth was amassed due to his special contributions.

In another recent case involving the Chairman of Laura Ashley, the Court of Appeal tried to provide some guidance about contributions that may be considered “stellar” which are as follows:

  • Only in the rarest of cases will a contribution be so special that one party will be entitled to significantly more of the assets than the other.
  • The contribution must be “wholly exceptional” in that it would be unfair to disregard it.
  • A “windfall” will not be enough. The party claiming a special contribution must themselves have done something remarkable to have built up the capital to be divided.
  • It is impossible to predict what is exceptional in any case and what is not.

The starting point in every case is an equal division of the assets built up during the marriage. The thinking behind this is that a marriage is a partnership of equals and equality of sharing produces fairness. There are bound to be exceptions to this rule where the parties have financial needs, such as housing, which must be met from the assets that are available. It is often the case therefore that this argument is reserved for the wealthy, rather than those who have just enough assets to meet both parties’ needs.

Despite the majority of these high value cases resulting in the party in the weaker financial position receiving an adequate (some might consider £453m to be more than adequate!) settlement, there does still appear to be a slight shift in the financially stronger party’s favour. For example, in the anonymous case above the husband received 58.5% of the assets and the wife received 41.5%. In the Laura Ashley Chairman’s case, the wife claimed the assets were worth at least £205m and she received £64m, around 31% of the total assets. Conversely, in another recent case, a former US banker husband was ordered to pay his wife 50% of the £140m asset pot.

Such contributions are therefore not going unrecognised however these arguments will generally be limited to cases involving very wealthy couples and there is no clear test for how much the “stellar contributor” will be awarded should their argument succeed.

Company & Industry

Related Insights

Insights

Saying goodbye at a distance

Posted on 30th June 2020 in Later Life Planning, Coronavirus Pandemic

Like many people across the country, I recently suffered a family bereavement from Coronavirus. Unable to attend the funeral at the time due to lockdown restrictions, I had the strange experience of watching a live-streamed service from afar.

Posted by

Rachael Morley

Associate and Solicitor
Insights

The impact of Coronavirus on Devon and our local community

Posted on 26th June 2020 in Later Life Planning, Coronavirus Pandemic

Although we have a national reach, Tozers LLP is a Devon law firm at heart, and the welfare of our clients and the local community are at the centre of what we do. As we start to see the lifting of the Coronavirus restrictions, it is important to reflect on the impact that the virus has had on Devon, and how as a county we can work together to move forward in the future.

Posted by

Naomi Hoare

Solicitor