A landmark judgment in the Court of Appeal looked into the unfair division of wealth in divorce cases where one party is deemed the breadwinner while the other takes on a solely domestic role.
XW x XH examined the original judgment handed down in 2017 on the division of assets between a husband and wife, who cannot be named for legal reasons. The husband was a highly successful businessman while the wife was the sole carer for the couple’s severely disabled child.
In the original case, the husband claimed he had made a “special contribution” to the marriage through his wealth which resulted in the wife being awarded just 29% of the couple’s combined wealth.
The judgment was described as “grossly unfair” and went before Lord Justice Moylan at the Court of Appeal in December 2019.
Lord Justice Moylan overturned the ruling saying: “In this case, the wife’s enormous contribution to the welfare and happiness of the family, as the homemaker and principal carer of AB, both during and after the marriage, has been and will be incalculable.
“She has devoted herself to the day-to-day care of a child with special needs and by doing so has freed the husband to a very considerable extent to enable him to pursue the business activities which have generated the enormous wealth now available.”
It is clear that without the contribution of the wife as a carer, the husband would not have been as successful.
This judgment has taken a step to stopping a dangerous precedent which automatically allows the main breadwinner to retain wealth that should actually be divided equally or according to needs. It ensures that financial contributions are not ranked higher than domestic contributions.
More often than not, men will be the breadwinners within the household leading to many women missing out in divorce cases where the above is the case. As such, this judgment has been described as a “critical win for gender equality” in divorce.
The shift towards gender equality in divorce began in 2000 with the case of White v White, another landmark judgment which ruled that both primary-earner (a.k.a breadwinners) and homemaker roles should be regarded equally when it comes to contribution to a marriage, meaning assets should be divided 50:50.
This latest judgement is crucial for the fairness and reasonableness of decisions made by the court.
If you are looking for legal advice on the division of assets in a divorce, Farleys’ family law team can help. Call us today on 0845 287 0939 or send your enquiry by email.