A recent case involving a fairly short, childless marriage and dual incomes has established that equal sharing is not automatic.

The Judgment of Lord Justice McFarlane in Sharp v Sharp [2017] EWCA Civ 408 considers why the application of the concept of unilateral assets would justify departure from equality in a short, childless marriage involving dual earnings.

Actually, the marriage was not all that short. The couple started living together in 2007, married in June 2009 and began divorce proceedings in December 2013. In other words, they were together for some 6 years, which in some cases can be interpreted as medium length. They were in their early 40s. The total assets were £6.9 million. The Wife had £4.17 million in her bank accounts. This was because although they had earned approximately similar basic salaries, the Wife had earned £10.5 million of bonuses during the marriage. They had always kept their finances separate and did not know the detail of each other’s. They often divided up their restaurant bills for meals out and they paid half of all household bills.

The first instance Judgment said that there was “no sufficient reason… for parting from equality of division”.

However, the Court of Appeal held that it was wrong to say that there was an automatic application of an equal division in every case. McFarlane LJ said “if… the equal sharing principle of 50/50 allocation is now applied… without exception… this would seem to be a very significant and wholly unjustified development…”. “An automatic or blind application of a 50/50 split in every case can only be an inadmissible judicial gloss on the statute, which expressly requires the Court to consider all the circumstances of the case”.

The Court’s conclusion was that fairness may require a reduction from a full 50% share or the exclusion of some property from the 50% calculation.

The Husband’s share was then reduced, being made up partly from a 50% share of certain properties and another lump sum to deal with future needs.

This case is especially important for two reasons. First, of course, the emphasis that it is wrong to apply an automatic 50/50 presumption to any case, every case depends on its facts. The important second aspect, though, is where McFarlane LJ talks about “the exclusion of some property from the 50% calculation”. Up to now Judges have been required, fairly strictly, to look at the whole pool of assets and apply a global percentage to them, but where appropriate to vary that percentage to reflect other factors. So far so good. Generally, they have been told it is wrong to “ringfence” certain assets. However, the case of Sharp v Sharp gives the first indication that in some cases it might be appropriate to carry out the calculation by ringfencing, because every case depends on its own facts.

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 had a 30-minute consultation with Samantha Jago where she clearly explained all my options and followed up with a detailed email of notes. I would highly recommend if you need help to clarify where you stand and getting options for how you move forward.

Jun 2024   Katherine Davey

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

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