Ex-husband ‘won the lottery’ in divorce court says trader

financial settlement

A wealthy financial trader has claimed her now ex-husband “won the lottery” with a sizeable divorce settlement.

Julie and Robin Sharp divorced in 2014, after a six year, childless relationship. She accumulated a multimillion pound fortune buying and selling energy stocks and bonds, earning huge bonuses. Meanwhile, Mr Sharp worked as an IT consultant, but eventually gave up his career to look after their two homes in Gloucestershire.

In 2015, during the couple’s divorce proceedings, Sir Peter Singer awarded Mr Sharp £2,737,000, exactly half the matrimonial assets, in a ‘clean break’ settlement. But Julie, who now goes by her birth name Arnold, successfully appealed, arguing that she had generated the overwhelming majority of the matrimonial assets, and that the couple had never merged their finances.

Lord Justice MacFarlane accepted this argument, saying:

“…where both spouses have largely been in full-time employment and where only some of their finances have been pooled… fairness may require a reduction from a full 50% share or the exclusion of some property from the 50% calculation.”

Mr Sharp’s settlement was reduced, to one of the couple’s homes and a lump sum payment of £900,000.

Speaking to The Telegraph this week, Julie Arnold said she thought the revised award was:

“…still a lottery win, just for being with someone. If we’d stayed married, we would still have kept our finances separate and he would not have had his £2 million.”

Divorce law needs to be modernised, she claimed, saying it was ill-suited in particular to couples who separate after short marriages with no children. Increasing numbers of people marry later in life, she added, when it is common for one partner to earn more than the other or to bring assets into the marriage. In such cases, the normal assumption in favour of sharing assets equally was unjust, Arnold insisted.

She told the paper:

“Matrimonial law relies on a 1973 act and distributes wealth based on case law involving a couple who married in 1961 and stayed together for 30 years. Our life is different now and there will be more and more couples who divorce after shorter marriages before they have children.”

Arnold continued:

“This is not a gender issue, it has nothing to do with that, but is about having a fair legal system.”

She had appealed, she explained, because she wanted a “fair outcome”.

“I was really disillusioned with the whole process. I really believed in the legal system and assumed justice would be served.”

Obligatory pre-nuptial agreements would ensure couples properly discuss their finances before getting married, the trader suggested.

“All of this uncertainty puts people off getting married.”

Photo by Jeremy Brooks via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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D - January 9, 2018 at 2:09pm

Unjust, unfair claims here .. interesting to contrast to the arguments around the Scottish divorce law ‘leaves wives worse off’ argument.

Spike Robinson - January 9, 2018 at 4:20pm

I have to say Ms Arnold is right. While it is somewhat satisfying to see unfair law applied in a gender-equal way (the first instance case), it is much better if the way the law is applied is fair (the appellate case). I just hope that future decisions will be both fair and gender-equal, rather than unfair and gender-unequal. I do believe that the courts are improving in applying the law in a gender-equal way. In turn this is making clear some of the underlying unfairness in previous case law, leading to successful challenges by women, like this case. Hopefully this trend will continue for the general good.

Spike Robinson - January 9, 2018 at 5:25pm

To be honest though the court of first instance seems to have clearly erred in law. A short marriage case (6 years being the limit) with no children should never have started from the presumption of 50/50 division of assets. The first judge should have paid much greater attention to what was brought in to the marriage by each party in such a case. As the appellate judge subsequently did rule.

Andrew - January 14, 2018 at 5:30pm

If he won the lottery it is because he bought a ticket in it – and it was Ms Wealthy who sold him the ticket when she married him. I would have left it at 50/50.

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