A wealthy investment banker has been given permission to appeal a divorce settlement which awarded his wife half his fortune.
The 48 year-old husband met his wife when they were both in their 20s. They married in Los Angeles, California, at a time when they both had “good but modest jobs and no appreciable capital”. Two years after their marriage, the husband started working for a private equity firm based in Texas and was soon assigned to an office in Tokyo, Japan.
The couple had two children while in Japan and lived in Tokyo from 1997 until 2005 when they moved to Hong Kong. In 2008 the family moved to London. By the time the husband left the firm, he had acquired personal wealth of around $300 million. He apparently made somewhere in the region of $7 billion for his firm during his time there.
Although the judgment did not state when the couple separated, it did reveal that the husband had been ordered to pay his wife 50 per cent of his fortune. This would include two lump sums, one of $60 million and one of $50 million. Until those were made, he was order to pay her maintenance of £130,000 per month.
Prior to this award, the husband had claimed he should not have to pay half of his fortune because of his “special contribution” to the marriage. He insisted that his “accumulation of … vast wealth” in such a short space of time was “unmatched” by his wife’s contributions to the marriage, who stayed at home to look after the children.
However, the initial judge ruled that it was “only because of [the wife’s] willingness to move and live in Japan that the husband had been able to both work there and amass the wealth” and ordered the 50/50 division of assets.
The husband believed the judge’s findings on what constituted a “special contribution” were incorrect and sought permission to appeal the ruling. At the Court of Appeal, Lady Justice King declared that it was “arguable that the judge erred in his approach to the test” to determine what counted as a contribution. She added that the vast amount of money he earned could be considered “unmatched”. Therefore she granted the husband permission to launch an appeal against the order.
Read the judgment in full here.
Photo of the Royal Courts of Justice by jo.sau via Flickr