There has been much speculation in the press that the wife of Ant McPartlin of Ant and Dec fame will receive half of his estimated £62 million fortune upon divorce.
The starting point on divorce is that a couple’s assets are split equally. The court will then consider other factors under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 which may lead to a deviation from a 50/50 split if it is fair and reasonable to do so.
Given the length of this marriage and the extent of the assets, it is unlikely that any of those factors will be considered relevant in this case.
However Ant may be able to argue that he has made a ‘special contribution’ towards the accumulation of the marital assets to reduce the amount he has to pay.
In circumstances in which a spouse’s contribution to the creation of matrimonial property has been so extraordinary, a departure from the sharing principle may be justified.
It is notoriously difficult to succeed on an argument for special contribution and there have only been a handful of reported cases of such claims being successful over the past 17 years. Despite this, most recently it has been reported that Ryan Giggs will seek to argue that he made a special contribution to the creation of wealth during his marriage. The case is due to be heard in the High Court and Giggs will need to convince the court that his contribution to the footballing world is so ‘genius’ that it justifies a settlement in his favour.
Whether Giggs or indeed McPartlin (if he pursues such a claim) are successful remains to be seen. These cases once again highlight the importance for wealthy individuals to consider entering into a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement to protect their wealth and preserve their assets in the event of marriage breakdown.
If you would like advice on any family law matter, please contact Sarah Jones on 01782 205000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org