My cheat­ing ex has won the di­vorce lot­tery

City trader’s hus­band gets £2m – but rul­ing could end 50/50 pay­outs

Daily Mail - - Life - By Tom Payne

A CITY trader is call­ing for an end to 50/50 di­vorce pay­outs af­ter her cheat­ing ex-hus­band was awarded al­most £3mil­lion of her money.

Julie Arnold said Robin Sharp had ‘won the lot­tery’ when the High Court granted him half their £5.45mil­lion for­tune, even though the cou­ple kept their fi­nances sep­a­rate through­out their re­la­tion­ship.

Miss Arnold, 44, amassed £10.5mil­lion in bonuses dur­ing their four-year mar­riage on top of her £135,000 salary, while her hus­band earned £90,000 a year as an IT con­sul­tant.

Af­ter an­other court bat­tle, judges cut Mr Sharp’s set­tle­ment from £2.7mil­lion to their £ 1.1mil­lion home and a £900,000 lump sum. Ex­perts called it a ground­break­ing move away from the con­ven­tion that as­sets are halved.

The cou­ple, who do not have any chil­dren, de­cided to di­vorce when Miss Arnold found her hus­band, 43, had been un­faith­ful, and the High Court ini­tially split their for­tune down the mid­dle. Miss Arnold, from Shur­d­ing­ton near Chel­tenham, said: ‘It 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 £2mil­lion. The fact that it took four years was Kept £1.1m home: Mr Sharp just a fur­ther pun­ish­ment for me, who had done noth­ing wrong.’ She fought the de­ci­sion at the Court of Ap­peal, ar­gu­ing the rul­ing was un­fair given her much larger con­tri­bu­tion to their fi­nances.

Miss Arnold said: ‘I was re­ally dis­il­lu­sioned with the whole process. I re­ally be­lieved in the le­gal sys­tem and as­sumed jus­tice would be served. I con­sid­ered my ap­peal very care­fully – it was a dif­fi­cult few years – but I wanted a fair out­come.

‘All of this un­cer­tainty puts peo­ple off get­ting mar­ried.’

Miss Arnold be­lieves di­vorce law should be changed as more pro­fes­sional cou­ples marry later in life and do not have chil­dren.

She wants sim­pli­fied prenup­tial agree­ments that force cou­ples to dis­cuss their fi­nances, avoid­ing lengthy court bat­tles. She told the Sun­day Tele­graph: ‘Our life is dif­fer­ent now and there will be more and more cou­ples who di­vorce af­ter shorter marriages be­fore they have chil­dren.’

Her case comes af­ter for­mer High Court judge Sir Paul Co­leridge de­scribed di­vorce leg­is­la­tion as ‘rick­ety and out of date’.

He said: ‘We can­not sim­ply shut our eyes to the fam­ily chaos that has arisen in so­ci­ety since the Eight­ies. Con­tin­u­ing to sit on our hands shows no sign of work­ing.’

Lord Jus­tice McFar­lane said Miss Arnold’s case had ‘trig­gered a plain ex­cep­tion’ to the prin­ci­ple of split­ting as­sets in half. He said: ‘The bulk, in­deed ef­fec­tively all, of the prop­erty has been gen­er­ated by the wife.

‘Short mar­riage, no chil­dren, dual in­comes and sep­a­rate fi­nances are suf­fi­cient to jus­tify a de­par­ture from the equal shar­ing prin­ci­ple to achieve fair­ness be­tween these par­ties.’

Di­vorce lawyer Alex Car­ruthers, of Hughes Fowler Car­ruthers, said Miss Arnold’s case had ‘mud­died the wa­ters’.

More than a tenth of mar­ried cou­ples say they could split up this year be­cause of money wor­ries, a poll found. Some 22 per cent have con­sid­ered end­ing re­la­tion­ships, ac­cord­ing to law firm Slater and Gor­don’s sur­vey of 2,093, with 12 per cent blam­ing fi­nan­cial pres­sures.

‘Un­cer­tainty puts peo­ple off’

Call for re­form: Mil­lion­aire Julie Arnold

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