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Length of marriage could determine divorce settlements

Author: Sharon McKie

In the case of Sharp v Sharp the Court of Appeal ruled on 13 June 2017 that a short marriage, no children, dual incomes and separate finances warranted a decision to depart from equality in order to achieve fairness between the parties.

In 2015 the husband had been awarded £2.7million, which was half of the total assets between the parties. The wife argued that he should receive £1.3million. On appeal the husband was awarded £2million and £80,000 towards his legal costs.

This is an important decision as it potentially draws a legal distinction between a “short” and “long” marriage. It also points to the fact that the wife received bonuses from her employment without contribution from the husband. The fact that the parties had kept their capital separate was also considered of relevance.

The case highlights that even where there are substantial assets, the needs of the parties are paramount. The judgement raises questions as to what defines a “short” marriage and how long parties have to be married in order to share in each other’s wealth.

In light of this judgment perhaps more couples will consider entering into prenuptial agreements in order to avoid the costs of litigation after separation and the uncertain outcome. Atherton Godfrey can assist with advice and preparation of such agreements ………contact our Family team on 01302 320621 or email family@athertongodfrey for more information.


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