Family Wealth Protected in UK Divorce Ruling

A wife was not entitled to a £7 million share of her husband’s £24 million fortune after 25 years of marriage because he inherited it from his father, a divorce judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Moylan ruled that the wealth of the couple, who cannot be named, was “not the product of their endeavours”, so the “sharing principle” of divorce settlements should be ignored.

The source of wealth came from a manufacturing company which began after the Second World War by the husband’s father.  Mr Justice Moylan indicated that the parties had enjoyed a good standard of living, which the wife described as “extremely high, with no money worries and no restraints on spending”.  The parties’ total assets which included several farms, thousands of acres, a shooting estate, shares and a substantial investment portfolio amounted to in between £21 million and £24 million.

The wife’s legal representatives sought a lump sum of £6 million in addition to the £1 million assets in her sole name, together with an income of £130,000 a year and £1.5 million to purchase and furnish a property.

The husband’s legal representatives stated that £850,000 was sufficient to purchase a property and the lump sum should only be £1.4 million in addition to the £1 million in her sole name.  Their argument was that the Court should not apply the “sharing principle” to provide for the wife to have a stake in the husband’s inherited wealth as this would be an invasion of the inheritance that the husband owed to his father.

Mr Justice Moylan said that the husband’s wealth was “non matrimonial” and as such it was “fair” to base the wife’s award on a generous assessment of her needs, the wife therefore received a lump sum of £3.3 million in addition to the assets in her sole name.

Following this decision cases before the Court will need to consider pre-acquired assets including inherited assets, balanced with the needs of the party without any inherited wealth.

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Gill Carr

About Gill Carr

Gill Carr is an Associate Solicitor within the Family department at Forbes Solicitors. Gill’s blogs cover his specialisms of child protection, acting for both parents and children together with family members. Gill also advises and comments upon forced marriage, divorce, separation, child arrangements and financial matters. Gill writes about current legislation and case law relating to family law.
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