In a recent case known as X v X from 2016 a High Court Judge made decisions that have puzzled some practitioners. His decisions show that even in most complex of financial disputes arising from divorce a broad-brush approach can be used rather than a full and detailed evaluation with ascribed and sectioned decisions.

In this particular case the couple were in their mid-forties, married for 14 years and had four children all of whom lived with the husband. The wife also suffered from alcoholism.

In terms of assets the parties held approx. £15m to £41m depending upon valuations of a trust and some shares. Quite unusually the value of the shares had massively increased between the date of the judge hearing the case and the date of his decision (approx. £15m more).

At its simplest this case involved arguments relating to a high value company (in which the Husband held a pivotal role), a complex trust, post separation accrual, stellar contributions, premarital assets, post separation endeavour, alcoholism, and unequal contributions post separation and during the marriage. While the case held much by way of assets, there was clearly much also to consider as to the nature, origin and use of assets as well as the needs of children and two parties.

This case is exceptional not just because of the value of the assets involved or their nature, origin or use but also because the judge sought to deal with arguments broadly with a view to doing what he felt was fair to the parties. In this case the Wife received 37.5% of the total assets available as found by the Judge.

The case serves as a reminder that court’s hold a broad discretion in proceedings concerning the distribution of assets following divorce and the parties may have wide ranging and complex arguments whether the assets amount to millions or hundreds of thousands and involve companies, trusts or properties. Expert advice from reputable practitioners is a must in order to obtain the best settlement for.