Court of Appeal decision in Sharp v Sharp15/06/17
On 13 June the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Mrs Sharp in her appeal against an order awarding her ex-husband 50% of the total matrimonial assets.
Mr and Mrs Sharp had a relatively short marriage (six years including cohabitation) and largely separate finances. Their assets consisted primarily of two properties, one of which was purchased by Mrs Sharp before the marriage, and funds held in Mrs Sharp’s bank accounts. Although they received similar basic incomes Mrs Sharp had, during the course of the marriage, received bonuses of some £10.5 million.
The judge at first instance awarded Mr Sharp half of the matrimonial assets on the basis that if there is more than enough money to meet each parties’ needs then matrimonial assets should be shared equally. Mrs Sharp successfully argued that in certain circumstances a departure from equality can be justified to achieve overall fairness. In her own case the relevant factors included the short length of the marriage, the lack of children, and the fact that the bulk of the wealth had been generated by her bonuses which were way beyond her previous earnings and which had been earned by her without any contribution from Mr Sharp.
The judgment suggests that a short marriage will not always be considered to have been a financial partnership and that judges must, in some circumstances, look beyond an equal division to obtain a fair result.