An award-winning entrepreneur has been told to hand about a third of a £220 million fortune to his ex-wife after a High Court cash battle. The founder of the online fashion retailer ASOS met his wife in 2002; they were married in 2004 and subsequently had 2 children. Their relationship ended in 2013.

The wife was awarded £70 million to reflect her contribution during the course of the marriage as an “excellent home-maker and an excellent mother.” This was despite the fact the Judge recognised that the wife had come into the relationship with negligible means and the husband had been the “money maker” prior to and during the course of the marriage. The exact value of the husband’s fortune at the outset of the relationship is unknown but the husband initially co-founded the company then known as AsSeenOnScreen in March 2000.

The length of the parties’ married was less than 10 years but still the wife walked away with a little short of a third of the husband’s wealth because the Judge decided that both had “contributed equally” during the marriage.

The relevant principles applied by the Judge when deciding on how assets should be apportioned between divorcing couples are set out in Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 which, essentially, reads: – “It shall be the duty of the court in deciding whether to exercise its powers …. to have regard to all the circumstances of the case. Section 25 goes on to list a number of matters the Court should specifically consider but the most relevant to this particular case would be that of the contributions made by each of the parties to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family.

This case reinforces the principle of equality that must be applied when dealing with the division of the matrimonial assets and is a clear reminder to all that wealth accumulated during the course of a marriage does not vest solely with the person who earnt it!

For advice and assistance in relation to the division of matrimonial assets upon Divorce, please contact Helen Hanson, an Associate Solicitor and Family Law Specialist, on 01562 820575 or by email hhanson@thursfields.co.uk

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