It comes as a surprise to many of our clients going through divorce that there’s no set formula to apply when calculating financial settlements. Yes, in marriages of a reasonable length there is a principle of equal division of marital assets. But that’s only a starting point. Judges have a wide discretion to divide assets in a way that achieves a fair outcome. And the recent case of RC v JC shows that – in appropriate circumstances – the courts aren’t reluctant to exercise that discretion.  The judge in the case increased the wife’s settlement because she had given up a potentially lucrative career as a solicitor to stay at home and raise a family.

Departing From The Equality Principle In Divorce Settlements

The courts in England and Wales have flexibility to decide on appropriate financial settlements in each case. They must take into account a wide range of factors, including:

  • The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources of each party including what each party is likely to have in the foreseeable future e.g. inheritance
  • The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of each party
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the marriage broke down

In applying these factors it is open to judges to depart significantly from the idea that marital assets should be divided equally when a couple divorces. And as it’s difficult to second-guess how a particular judge might interpret the facts of a specific case it is always advisable to try to find an agreed settlement before going to court.

RC v JC: What Is ‘Relationship-generated disadvantage’?

The case of RC v JC is a recent example of a divorce that went all the way to court and ended up in a settlement that many divorce lawyers and commentators found surprising. Briefly, the facts of the case were as follows:

The husband and wife had assets of around £10 million following a decade long marriage. The husband was a high-earning solicitor and the wife, a trainee solicitor when they met (and subsequently an in-house solicitor), had given up her career in order to stay at home and look after the children of the marriage.

While the judge noted that the husband and wife disputed the wife’s potential to earn significant sums if she had continued with her career, he ultimately decided that her earning capacity had been curtailed significantly by her decision to stay at home. Instead of splitting the marital pot 50/50 he awarded the wife an additional sum of £400,000 by way of compensation for her loss of career or, as he termed it, her ‘relationship-generated disadvantage’.

What Next?

We don’t think the case of RC v JC will open the floodgates to claims for ‘relationship-generated disadvantage’. For one thing there would have to be sufficient assets in a marital pot to justify such a claim. In addition, as Moor J. was at pains to point out – on several occasions in his judgment – the principle of compensation does not generally apply when it comes to financial settlements on divorce. It will only be in ‘truly exceptional cases’ (such as this one where a gifted lawyer walks away form a hugely attractive career) that compensation may be used to achieve a fair result.

Got a question? Ask us now…

Kindly complete the form below to send an enquiry. Your message will be sent to one of our solicitors. Discretion is guaranteed.

Your Information

  • Consider including information such as: the name of your spouse (if relevant), the country you live in, the background to your problem.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Over 2000 FREE
consultations and counting…

Our free consultation can help you more clearly understand the legal issues relating your case and what your options are to move forward.

Request your free consultation

Or send us an enquiry

I recently had a one hour pro bono consultation with Samantha Jago. I was really blown away by how much she was able to digest in such a short period of time and even more so by the report which I received shortly after.

Apr 2024   S DF

I had applied for a free consultation and I was contacted in a very short timeframe. Thank you so much for the insightful and thorough consultation, Kevin Danagher. You made me feel at ease and you provided clear expectations with the initial info I had provided... I have now a much better understanding on my query.

Feb 2024   Sonia Accardi

We had a very useful first consultation with Amber Matheson today. Amber took the time to understand our (somewhat complicated) set-up, and offered good, understandable advice on next steps. She followed up with a very thorough email clarifying what we had discussed. Highly recommended.

Feb 2024   Lucie

Lovely friendly experience. All questions were answered so that I understood completely.

Dec 2023   Ali Catlin

Very balanced, fair and pragmatic advice. Thoroughly recommend!!

Nov 2023   James Elliott

Henry graciously provided his time for a consultation. I found him to be highly knowledgeable, empathetic and he provided excellent advice which put my mind at ease. Would highly recommend Henry and his firm.

Oct 2023   Allan Ang

Henry Brookman went above and beyond during the free consultation, and even overran the allocated time. He provided invaluable professional advice in a courteous manner. I recommend his firm without reservation.

Sep 2023   Mario Ignatov

I only had my initial free review with Amelia yet I already feel much more strengthened in my legal and financial position. I am currently reflecting on the steps I want to take to negotiate my desired outcome of the financial settlement but, when I am ready to use the services of a lawyer, Amelia is definitely the top on my list.

Sep 2023   Nahid Toubia

I had a zoom consultation with Lauren Moir and she was incredible. Very patient, insightful and reassuring. She also advised me based on my previous conversations with another firm and also clarified various positions I am in. Highly recommend.

Aug 2023   Gary Hawes

I was very impressed with the friendly, helpful and professional service offered by Brookman Solicitors. The generous advice and knowledge offered during the initial free consultation has enabled us to have a much better understanding of our case and plan a way forward.

Jul 2023   Peter Jackson

I had a first consultation with Kevin, who very diligently and professionally provided an exhaustive overview of the divorce process and the best approach for my specific case.

Jul 2023   Giulia Matteo

Great service and excellent advice at the initial consultation. I would certainly recommend and use in the future.

Jul 2023   Tom James

Spoke to a kind solicitor this morning who took an hour of her time to talk me through some advice relating to a difficult separation.... She was clear and helpful with her advice, leaving me feeling much more confident with the process ahead of me.

Jun 2023   Luke Taylor

Mr Brookman provided very clear advice that left me with no doubt about the options and next steps. Getting specific advice with the requirements in the different jurisdictions was particularly useful so I won’t need to consult another lawyer outside of the UK

May 2023   Julian Anthony

Google Reviews
Ask A Question

Contact Us

If you have questions, contact us now, we can help you.

Enquire Now

Or call us on +44 (0)20 7430 8470