Whilst it is not as common as it once was, the majority of marriages still have a sole or primary financial contributor (‘breadwinner’) and a domestic contributor (‘homemaker’). These roles can be either party in the marriage.
This leads to a great difference between the amount of marital assets acquired during the marriage. However, we now, as a society see that a homemaker’s contribution is somewhat equal to that of the breadwinner in that they have allowed the breadwinner to focus solely on the financial gains by taking care of all other aspects of the family i.e. taking care of child(ren) and the household.
The case of White v White in 2000 was a landmark case in that the Wife took her case all the way to the Court of Appeal as she deemed her financial settlement to be unfair in regards to the contributions both parties had made. This ended the precedent that husbands received the majority of the marital wealth.
In a more recent case, in 2019, the Court of Appeal dismissed a judgment given in 2017 which capped a ‘homemakers’ share in a financial settlement to 29%. The earlier Judge had stated that the ‘breadwinner’ had made a special contribution and so this should be recognised. Whilst the Court of Appeal did recognise that a substantial amount of the marital wealth had come from decisions made by the ‘breadwinner’ before entering the marriage, they still did not deem the previous judgment ‘fair’ based on the amount of wealth that had accrued within the time of the marriage. The Court of Appeal stated that 60% of the net wealth could be regarded as marital and therefore could be divided based on a fair assessment of both roles of the parties.
When determining how to divide marital wealth in a financial settlement, parties should centre their judgements around the main foundation of fairness.
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