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.”
“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.”