A divorced man has won the right to retain £1 million of his pre-marital assets before a 50/50 division of the remainder of the couple’s joint assets is made. The assets were valued at around £9.5 million, after provision had been made for the children’s future education costs.
When the couple married in 1993, the husband (known as ‘H’) had assets worth £2.1 million, estimated to be worth £4.2 million today. During proceedings, H asked for the settlement to leave him with some £1.4 million more than his former wife (‘W’) who claimed an equal share of the joint assets. She said that even with a 50 per cent share, she would barely be able to meet her reasonable needs.
W gave various reasons to the court as to why she thought it would be unfair for H’s pre-marital property to be excluded, including the fact that the property was brought to the marriage a long time ago and had, since then, been commingled with the rest of the family wealth. She also felt that H had deliberately given up a highly remunerative job in banking in 2007, to become a school teacher, in order to reduce the amount of any settlement.
The judge disagreed with W’s arguments, however, pointing out that when H left his job in banking, he was able to sell his shares in the bank for considerably more than they would have been worth now, following the global financial crisis. The judge said that he could not fault a man for leaving a job after 28 years in order to take up a new career that he clearly loved. He also stated that there was no evidence to show that H would have any greater earning potential in the financial sector and pointed out that at 55 years old, and in view of the poor state of the financial sector compared with when H left it, it was by no means certain that he would be able to find employment in the financial sector, even if he wanted to.
In conclusion, the judge ordered that £240,000 be paid into an account for the daughter’s education, reflecting amounts that had been set aside for the son since 1999. The judge said that it would be ‘wrong and unfair for none of H’s pre-marital wealth to be excluded from the sharing principle’. On the other hand, the judge went on to say that the marriage was long and the pre-marital monies were ‘well and truly mingled’ with marital funds, which signified an acceptance by H that the money would be shared with W.
The judge therefore ordered that £1 million should be excluded from the settlement, the rest of the assets being divided equally between the two parties.
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