This kind of divorce claim could only involve a Saudi billionaire! The sheik’s lawyer described the wife’s demands as “firmly in gasp territory”. The demands included such “essential items” as £28,000 a year for Wimbledon tickets!
What criteria does the Court use in deciding an award in a normal divorce case?
There is a check list that the Court goes through in every financial divorce case, which is set out in section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. This includes the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage. Each party has to set out an itemised breakdown of their capital needs and their income needs. These are sometimes criticised for making excessive demands, which would provide a higher standard of living after divorce than during the marriage!
Nigel Davies estimates that more than 90% of divorce cases in this country are decided on a needs basis. This is where there are insufficient assets to provide for the needs of both parties and the dependent children of the marriage. The higher needs of the parent who is bringing up the dependent children of the family usually mean that that parent gets more than half of the assets. In most cases, there is no surplus to be divided after the needs of the parties have been met. The most basic need for the parties is to have a house to live in.
In big money cases, and this involves several million pounds ( not a mere one million pounds!), the Court will look at the sharing principle. The assumption is that all the matrimonial assets that were built up during the marriage will be divided equally between the husband and the wife. This is regardless of who created that wealth. There are some divorce cases where one party has claimed that their contribution to creating the wealth has been so outstanding that they should receive more than half of the assets. This is an extremely difficult hurdle to overcome. Even when this argument has succeeded, the other party has still received a generous share of the assets, and will have received several million pounds.
There are arguments about whether some assets are non matrimonial assets. These might include assets owned by one party before the marriage, inherited during the marriage and kept separate from the other assets, or wealth created after a marriage has broken down.
There is no simple formula set out in statute or in case law that covers all cases. This is why it is absolutely essential to get advice from a specialist family law practitioner.
If you have any questions with regard to obtaining a divorce then please contact Nigel Davies on 01562 820575 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.