“The recent decision in Sharp v Sharp has been described as “ground-breaking” on the basis that there was no legal distinction between a long and short marriage and therefore no defined point after which wealth generated should be shared. That assertion however ignores that the Court has always been required to consider as part of their deliberations the duration of the marriage (section 25(d) Matrimonial Causes Act 1975).
The Court’s starting point in dealing with financial disputes in divorce proceedings is that the matrimonial resources should be shared equally unless there is good reason to depart from equality. While equality is the starting point, it is not necessarily the end point. Each case must be looked at taking into account all the relevant circumstances. The Court of Appeal decision in Sharp v Sharp confirms that a departure from equality might be required to meet the overarching goal of fairness in a particular case. This requires consideration of all the relevant factors, including the length of the marriage, whether there are any children of the marriage and how the parties arranged their financial affairs during the marriage.
In the case of Sharp the assets were considerable and were in the region of £7m. It remains the case however in the great majority of divorces in this country that while the Court’s starting point is that there should be an equal division of the resources, they will in fact be concentrating on meeting both parties needs and that of the children from the available resources rather than the appropriate approach to adopt in dealing with the excess resources after needs have been met.”
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.