Liz Hodgkinson in her article in the Daily Mail yesterday discussed the apparent unfairness towards husbands of financial settlements in Divorce.
She cited a number of high profile examples, including the former wives of Bernie Ecclestone and Roman Abramovich and also referred to the recently published “Rich List” which included its own list for women whose only source of wealth, she says, had derived from their divorce settlements.
Ms Hodgkinson’s article suggests that there is a section of the female population who, for want of a better expression, marry well and then divorce better (from a financial point of view). She would rather see women agree to fair settlements and then “stand on their own two feet”. She also mentioned a “recent survey” that suggested that women divorcing in major metropolitan centres receive more generous Financial Settlements than in the provincial courts.
Generalisations are, of course, always dangerous in an area of the law that is guided by principles which are then applied to each individual case. The law in this area hit the statute books 40 years ago this year and is thus celebrating its ruby anniversary. It is surprising indeed that, given the enormous social changes that have taken place over that period, successive governments have left alone the principles which guide courts to determine financial settlements. As a result, judges have been left to interpret the law and apply the social mores of the day when determining who gets what in a divorce.
It is perhaps unfortunate that those principles are only clarified when very wealthy couples go through the divorce process, as it is those people who can afford to take cases through to the higher courts were judgements get reported and so judicial thinking can be analysed. It is often hard to see how decisions affecting multi-millionaires can be applied to the vast majority of cases where needs, in particular those of the Children, will take precedence over other issues. Whilst equality may appear fair, in reality it is not always the case.
Given that each individual case has its own dynamics and circumstances, no two cases are the same. I often hear from clients who provide anecdotal evidence of how their friends have fared through the courts, and therefore they should expect a similar outcome. Whilst the law remains open to such wide judicial interpretation and discretion this sadly cannot be guaranteed. So, anyone who is going through a Marriage Breakdown should take legal advice to understand how these aged legal principles should apply to them.
For more information about Divorce or Finances on Separation, please email us at email@example.com or call us on 0800 916 9055.