A judgment in the High Court may signal a shift in the ground rules governing the financial settlements in divorce cases.
The case involved a woman whose ex-husband is a high-flyer in the banking industry, earning a substantial salary and bonuses. The woman was awarded £13m in settlement of her claim, but the Court refused to order any further payment by her ex-husband to compensate her for her potential loss of his future earnings. She had sought an additional £1.5m, in effect for loss of future earnings.
The couple have four children and the wife had given up working to be with the children and to support her husband in his career. However, the Court was of the view that as a teacher she had not sacrificed a career that was likely to provide a substantial income. The judge concluded that the ex-husband’s fortune had been made primarily as the result of his own talents, hard work and good fortune.
Several well-reported cases, beginning with that involving footballer Ray Parlour and, more recently, the well-known Miller and McFarlane judgments, have permitted the wife’s contribution to a marriage to be assessed in terms of contribution to future earning potential. This case may well be a precedent for the limitation of the extent to which ex-wives can claim on the basis of their husband’s expected future income.