Regardless of whether you are a Man Utd fan or not, Giggs has undoubtedly generated substantial wealth during his football career. It has been widely reported that he and his wife, Stacey, are divorcing. Apparently he will argue that he should have more than an equal share of the assets because of his skills in creating the wealth.
So, does the law recognise genius or “special contribution” by the bread-winner when dividing a couple’s assets on divorce?
The simple answer is yes. The English courts have given a larger share of assets to the high-achieving husband in recent years, and such decisions are likely to influence the Manx courts.
Genius is, of course, not gender specific. Whilst it has, in fact, been the husband in these cases, the wife could equally be the one who has made the special contribution to the family wealth.
There have, however, only been 3 reported cases since 2002 in which one spouse has received more than half the assets as a result of special contribution.
In 2005, Sir Martin Sorrell was awarded 60% of the parties’ £100 million as a result of his special contribution in creating that fortune. The judge said that he displayed, “extraordinary acumen and drive,” in developing WPP into an advertising giant and was, “regarded within his field and the wider business community as one of the most exceptional and most talented businessmen.”
Next came Mr and Mrs Charman in 2007 with £131 million. Instead of an equal share, Mr Charman was awarded 63.5% of the total assets, mainly due to the special contribution he made in generating the assets. Mr Charman’s endeavours were found to be exceptional. He started his career effectively unqualified as a junior clerk at Lloyds of London. In the mid-1990s he helped to save the business through his, “drive, ingenuity and courage.” Eventually, he set up his own very successful global insurance business.
In 2014 Sir Christopher Hohn was awarded a 64% share of a total of £869 million, again as a result of his involvement in generating such a vast fortune. His wife, Jamie Cooper, received only 36%, despite her particularly active role as the primary carer of their 4 children and as President and CEO of one of the parties’ charitable foundations.
A note of caution, however, to those who consider their contribution to be ‘special’: the courts will not necessarily agree. Indeed, in most cases the courts do not agree that either the husband or wife is a genius and the bar is set very high. The courts are reluctant to find that one spouse has made a greater contribution. It is a fundamental principle that there should not be discrimination against the home-maker.
Read the full article here: Dividing a Couple’s Assets on Divorce.