Short marriages – Landmark decision which may change how these cases are litigated

Everyone will have heard by now the ruling in the case of the Sharps. The couple were married for 5 years and had no children.

The usual starting point for splitting assets on divorce is one of equality. Especially when there are no children and both parties are earning. Family lawyers have been watching this case intently as the decision may affect how we are able to advise in these matters.

The wife, Mrs Sharp, was a successful energy trader and received millions of pounds in bonuses throughout her marriage to Mr Sharp who worked in IT. She has managed to successfully argue that her husband should not automatically receive 50% of the assets and the Court of Appeal agreed with her. The Court of Appeal ordered on Tuesday that he should receive £2m of the estimated £5.45m. This was contrary to the decision of the High Court which ordered that she pay £2.75 million.

Mrs Sharp’s lawyers successfully argued that the majority of the assets were accumulated by her and therefore it would be unfair to order that the husband would receive half. This is a major step away from previous cases we have seen where an equal split has been ordered even if one party was the major breadwinner.

It shows that the appeal route can change a case significantly and this result mostly probably came as a shock to those advising the husband. Family lawyers will now need to look at the assets in the case and how these were accumulated, especially with short, childless marriages.

Watch this space…..         

A successful energy trader who received millions of pounds in bonuses has won an appeal in London to cut her divorce payment to her ex-husband, in a ruling that could have implications for dual-income divorced couples.

Julie Sharp, a City trader, received £10.5m in bonuses during her five-year marriage to her ex-husband, Robin, who worked in IT.

In 2015, Ms Sharp was ordered by a High Court judge to pay her ex-husband £2.75m from their £5.45m in marital assets after their marriage ended.

However, she appealed against the decision and the Court of Appeal on Tuesday cut the award payable to Mr Sharp to £2m, made up of £1.1m of property assets and £900,000 in cash.