With all my worldly goods I thee endow...??
The Court of Appeal have this week held that a wife of over 20 years should not share in her husbands wealth as of right but be entitled sufficient only to a sum to meet her “reasonable needs”.
When Mrs Hart married Mr Hart, he was by that time already a wealthy man, Mrs Hart brought no assets into the marriage “save for a Porche”
The couple went on to enjoy a very prosperous lifestyle but when it came to divorce, HHJ Wildblood awarded Mrs Hart only £3.5 million to meet her reasonable needs. Mrs Hart appealed the decision on the grounds that it was unfair and discriminatory but the Court of Appeal thought otherwise.
Significant weight was attributed to the wealth which Mr Hart brought into the marriage to allow he to keep the majority of his £9.4 million assets.
The Courts have for some time distinguished between the pre acquired assets and those assets built up during the course of the marriage (through the couples joint endeavours albeit of a differing nature).
This decision goes to support to need for a pre nuptial agreement where one party is bringing assets which they already own into the marriage. The Court will always ensure, where possible, that the parties reasonable needs are meet; should there be a surplus and that surplus can be traced back to one party (as evidenced in the pre nuptial agreement) then the Courts appear increasingly likely to allow that party to retain the surplus wealth.