(Family Division; Mostyn J; 11 March 2011)
Following a 16 year marriage with two children, the couple's total assets were worth about £9.7m. The husband had brought about £2.1m into the marriage. Having worked as a high earning banker, the husband had left the financial industry in 2007 and was happily employed as a school master earning about £36,000 a year. The drop in income meant the family had been living off capital.
The husband offered the wife £4.17m - 43% of the assets. The wife sought half on the basis of her needs. She had put her needs at in excess of the family assets. She claimed that the husband's non-matrimonial property had been converted into and mixed with matrimonial property and that the husband had alienated certain sums during the marriage. She criticised the husband for not taking up other work in the financial sector.
The treatment of non-matrimonial property is highly fact specific and very discretionary. The two-step approach is generally correct, subject always to needs. Here £1m of the husband's premarital wealth would be excluded from the sharing principle giving the wife 44.7% of the overall assets. She would have received a lower percentage but for her needs.