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Where's my half?

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Hot on the heels of the Sharp and Sharp decision is the case published today.

After twenty years of marriage, Mrs Hart was convinced that she was entitled to half of Mr and Mrs Hart’s £9.4m fortune so much so that she appealed against the lower court’s award of £3.5m which represented about 37% of the couple’s overall wealth. However, the Court of Appeal did not agree and dismissed Mrs Hart’s appeal. More than £2m of the overall wealth had been introduced into the marriage by Mr Hart and the Court decided that it was unfair for Mrs Hart to benefit from it.

Mr Hart had started out as a market trader selling fruit on his Dad’s stall. He then moved into property acquisitions. By the time he met and married Mrs Hart, he was wealthy in his own right in contrast to Mrs Hart who was an air hostess when they met. Apart from a Porsche, Mrs Hart did not have any capital of her own. Mrs Hart argued that after such a long marriage together that produced two children all their wealth should be split equally. However, Mr Hart was successful in persuading the Court that a fifty/fifty split of the assets would be unfair as it failed to recognise the significant capital he had introduced.

This case highlights that even in long marriages it should not be taken for granted that assets will be shared equally especially when more wealth is introduced into the marriage by one party. Moving away from an equal sharing of assets is allowed when needs and circumstances require it. In most cases, a move away from equal sharing is because a party needs more capital to buy a home for themseves and children or to meet other pressing expenses.  However, in wealthier cases where there is more than enough money to go around, a move away from equal sharing could be the outcome if a Court found that a financial contribution to the accumulation of a couple’s wealth came from one party alone at the outset of the marriage. If you are thinking about separating and you are concerned about where you stand financially, it might be time to get some legal advice. At Chapman Pieri we offer a no obligation fixed fee interview provided by a member of our experienced family team.