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Financier appeals settlement on basis of ‘special contribution’

The Court of Appeal will hear an American financier’s claim that his estranged wife should not receive an equal share of their fortune early next year.

Randy Work made more than £140 million during his very successful career as an equity investor, with the entire fortune accumulated following his marriage. He and wife Mandy moved to London in 2007 following periods in Texas and Tokyo. The couple had two children and Mandy became a stay-at-home mother.

When the couple separated, both remained in London. During the subsequent divorce proceedings, Mr Work claimed his wife was not entitled to an equal share of the assets because he had an ‘special contribution’ to their fortune through his investment skills and this should be recognised with a higher award. The financier’s lawyers pointing that his investments generated $7 billion for his employers during his time in Japan.

But Mr Justice Holman disagreed and ordered that Mandy was entitled to an equal share after all, concluding that his role in generating the couple’s fortune had not “wholly exceptional”.

The Judge questioned the use in court of the world ‘genius’ to describe Mr Work’s investment skills, saying:

“To my mind, the word ‘genius’ tends to be over-used and is properly reserved for Leonardo Da Vinci, Mozart, Einstein, and others like them.”

An uneven division of assets is occasionally sanctioned by the divorce courts if one party can demonstrate that they made a ‘stellar contribution’ to the couple’s finances.

Mr Work applied for permission to appeal and this was granted in January by Lady Justice King, who agreed his case was “arguable”.

His appeal is expected to be heard in February next year.

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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  1. D says:

    Stellar contribution sounds like a weird and obscure part of the law. And subjective as it seems.

    If you get married it works by putting all assets and earnings into a joint pot which is then split firstly to ensure the divided the assets provide enough to meet everyone’s needs (not in this case, plenty to go around), then division by the court with certain factors.

    If you don’t like the way it works get a prenup or don’t get married.. don’t then commit to something that works in a clearly defined way and then proclaim ‘oh but ‘…’stellar contribution’ !

    Stellar contribution will almost certainly only apply to asset, earnings rich divorces so why complicate the matters?

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