The roles of financial provider and home maker are equally important in a modern marriage, as the High Court has emphasised in awarding an ex-wife half of the £24.7 million in assets built up during a financially successful 40-year relationship.
From lowly beginnings as childhood sweethearts the couple had established a highly successful property management business during their long marriage. He was the driving force behind the company – which turned over about £24 million a year and made gross profits of about £7 million – and he owned 95 per cent of the shares.
However, quite apart from her role as home maker and carer for the couple’s four children, the wife had worked hard in the business as company secretary and financial controller and owned 5 per cent of the equity. The couple had enjoyed an enviable lifestyle, including a fleet of luxury cars and two villas on the Costa del Sol.
The marriage had collapsed after the husband’s life was taken over by the ‘demons’ of cocaine and alcohol abuse and the wife discovered that he had been consorting with prostitutes. He was said to have spent £230,000 on treatment for his drug addiction and, according to the wife, his habits cost up to £6,000 a week to service.
In dividing the marital assets equally between them, the Court ruled that each had contributed as much as the other to the establishment of the family fortune. It was a tribute to both of them that they had achieved so much, having started with so little. The wife’s award came to just short of £12.3 million.