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Millionaire Wife Fights ‘Cheating’ Ex-Husband Over Fortune

Millionaire Wife Fights ‘Cheating’ Ex-Husband Over Fortune

A City trader is fighting a court decision to award her former husband a large part of their £7m fortune in a case which seeks to challenge a longstanding “sharing principle” whereby assets acquired during a marriage are split equally between a couple. Julie Sharp says she earned almost all of the money in question, being in receipt of bonuses totalling £10.5m over five years while her husband Robin, an IT consultant, took voluntary redundancy.

The couple divorced in December 2013 after Mrs Sharp discovered that her husband had begun a new relationship, the court heard.

In November 2015 the High Court awarded Mr Sharp £2.74m in a ‘clean break’ settlement which was based on an equitable division of the couple’s assets, with a reduction to reflect those his wife had built up before the marriage. The joint assets amounted to about £6.9m, almost all originating from the wife, the court was told.

Approach of High Court judge described as “intrinsically unfair”

Mrs Sharp has proposed in the Appeal Court that her former husband should not receive more than £1.2m, which she says would “more than cover his needs.” Her lawyer, Frank Feehan, QC, described the previous approach of High Court judge Sir Peter Singer as “intrinsically unfair” in light of the brevity of the marriage, lack of children, and her financial contribution. He told the three Court of Appeal judges that “because this was a short marriage [Mr Sharp] should not get half of the matrimonial pot”.

However, Mr Sharp has said that he had made a substantive contribution to the marriage by project-managing and carrying out renovation works on the couple’s two properties, particularly after he accepted redundancy in 2012.

Settlement was in keeping with “usual sharing approach to divorce”

Jonathan Southgate, QC, for Mr Sharp, said that there was ample evidence of the couple’s intention to pool their resources. Although Mrs Sharp had not paid her bonuses into a joint account and the pair maintained largely separate finances, he said this was not uncommon in “traditional” set-ups where the main earner retains his or her income and “pays housekeeping to the other spouse.”

Mr Sharp was clear in his evidence that “they agreed he should take redundancy and stay at home, redeveloping their home and supporting their joint life together”, the court was told. Mr Southgate said that the settlement had been awarded in line with “the usual sharing approach to divorce.”

Lords Justice McFarlane, McCombe and David Richards reserved their decision on the appeal. Lawyers have said a ruling in Mrs Sharp’s favour would overturn a landmark judgment in 2006 which decreed that assets built up during the course of a marriage should be divided equally by default, regardless of the length of the marriage.

Supreme Court judge calls for no-fault divorce

Supreme Court judge Lord Wilson of Culworth has called on ministers to scrap the requirement of fault being apportioned in a divorce.

Lord Wilson said that he and other family law experts were “very disappointed” that attempts in the mid-1990s to create a no-fault divorce system for England and Wales and the wider UK had failed. Successive governments have resisted calls to amend the law, meaning that blame must still be attached to one side when a marriage breaks down.

The law was thrown into the spotlight earlier this month when a woman was unsuccessful in seeking to overturn a High Court judge’s ruling that she must stay in a “loveless” marriage with her husband of 39 years.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Lord Wilson also called for the law to be changed so that couples in long-term cohabiting relationships were given rights “analogous” to those who were married.

Contact our experienced high-net-worth divorce lawyers today

If you are a high-net-worth client and would like to discuss any aspect of family law, are considering divorce proceedings or a trial separation, or want to draw up a pre or post-nuptial agreement, call us in absolute confidence on 03456 381381. Alternatively, please email us at familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk. IBB’s family law experts are based in Chesham, Buckinghamshire and provide support to clients throughout Buckinghamshire, London and all surrounding areas.