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High Court rejects husband’s bid to retain shares

A man has failed in his bid to retain shares allocated to his wife by a divorce court.

In B v B, a family court Judge issue a lengthy legal order last May setting out the terms of the couple’s divorce settlement. Amongst its provisions was an order that the man’s ex-wife receive 40 per cent of his shares. She was to receive the value of these shares in lump sum payments once the shares had matured.

He was unhappy with this ruling, seeking instead to pay her just a single lump sum of £25,000 in relation to the shares, to be financed by the sale of the one-time couple’s former matrimonial home, along with an additional £175,000 in relation to other share holdings. These holdings, along with the shares, would remain his.

His ex-wife, however, opposed this suggestion, because she could potentially achieve greater value when the shares matured.

The couple had married in 1998 and separated in April 2012. Both now in their 40s, the former spouses have three children, all of whom live with the wife, who is a stay-at-home mother.

The husband acquired the shares via his employer, described in Mr Justice Bodey’s judgement as a “venture capital vehicle”. They were purchased following the couple’s separation.

Sitting in the High Court, Mr Justice Bodey praised the conduct of the husband’s appeal against the share order, saying:

“The hearing has been conducted in a polite and civilised way without the adversarial posturing so often encountered in this type of case.”

Nevertheless, the Judge was unpersuaded by the husband’s arguments. The earlier Judge had been entitled to conclude that the wife should receive a proportion of the shares’ values, he declared.

Mr Justice Bodey quoted now retired High Court Judge Mr Justice Coleridge in a 2013 case in which the importance of fairness in such cases was stressed:

“Fairness…is not just about arithmetic and precision of calculation, but a broad recognition by the court, after considering all the factors, of the value of the claimant’s (in this case the wife’s) role in the whole marital partnership.”

Assets should not be excluded from sharing simply because they had come “into existence after the date of separation”, Mr Justice Coleridge had continued. This was “far too simplistic a claim” if they were acquired in a “seamless continuum” of the situation prior to the couple’s separation.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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