Divorce Cases Still Battle to Quantify a Special Contribution; LEGAL FINANCE
Byline: By John Duckers Business Editor
The value of so-called 'special contributions' in generating the wealth being contested in fat cat divorce cases, such as the widely reported Charman v Charman appeal, is where the battle lines are being drawn in trying to agree high value settlements, according to a matrimonial law expert at MFG Solicitors.
Partner Karen Reynolds said the case served as a reminder that it was extremely difficult to establish such a claim - the Charmans were married for nearly 28 years before divorce proceedings began in 2004.
"Charman v Charman put a number of key issues under the spotlight, but none of them resulted in the desired outcome for the principal wealth generator in the marriage," she said.
At pounds 48 million the Court of Appeal upheld what is the largest award after contested proceedings in England and Wales.
Neither had any capital assets at the start of their marriage but by the end had amassed a fortune, assessed by the court at pounds 131 million.
For a large part of the marriage the wife had been the homemaker. In contrast, the husband, having started out as a junior clerk in the underwriting business at Lloyds had established a very lucrative career in high risk insurance and his talents in this specialised area had generated the enormous wealth.
Ms Reynolds said: "While, in divorce, the court retains a broad range of discretion in dealing with financial issues, following the landmark House of Lords decision in White v White 'the yardstick of equality' is likely to be applied in big money cases to assets created during the course of a long marriage.
"In this particular case the wife had conceded at the original hearing in the High Court that the husband's special contribution in generating the wealth should allow him to have slightly more than 50 per cent of the assets. …