Pre-nuptial agreements are rapidly becoming the norm when very wealthy people marry, but the courts are still inconsistent when it comes to decisions regarding the division of wealth when a 'pre-nup' does not exist.

In a recent case, a couple who divorced in 2013 with combined assets of some £25 million were in dispute over the division of their wealth. The husband claimed the lion's share on the basis that he had created almost all of it through his activities as a property developer and his much younger wife (a florist) should be entitled to no more than the standard of living she had enjoyed before their marriage. The couple had no children.

His ex-wife had claimed nearly £9 million, based on the usual presumption that wealth created during a marriage should be shared more or less equally. His offer – based on her needs as he saw them – was £3.5 million.

The court ruled that her financial needs could be met with a settlement of £5.6 million. This included a £2 million country home, a flat in London, £65,000 for a new car and £2.5 million. She will receive no maintenance, however.

Although divorces involving the very wealthy attract the newspaper headlines, the financial settlement in any divorce is often a key area of argument and one in which expert legal representation is crucial.

For advice on protecting your financial interests in the event of relationship break-up, contact Mauro Vinti on 0121 746 3300 or email m.vinti@sydneymitchell.co.uk or fill in our online enquiry form.

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