‘Homemaker’ wife wins chance to get better divorce settlement

The Court of Appeal has ruled that a judge got it wrong when calculating the divorce settlement for a woman who gave up a lucrative career to look after her children.

The case of Julia Hammans will now be re-tried by another judge to ensure that she is treated fairly. The court heard that Ms Hammans gave up a high paid job as a financial director so that she and her husband could raise a family.

When the couple divorced in 2004 after 21 years of marriage, she estimated that their joint assets were worth £11m.

Ms Hammans received the £1.75m six-bedroom family home in 2005, as part of a larger divorce settlement.

However, she believed she was discriminated against in the divorce hearing because, following the judge’s ruling, her income is now 10 times lower than her former husband’s.

Ms Hammans took the case to the High Court this year, arguing that she is entitled to compensation from her former husband’s income to make up for the career that she sacrificed.

She wanted a sum of £2.6m. However, the judge ruled that Mr Hammans should only pay £400,000 and Ms Hammans should sell her house to part-fund her future living expenses.

The Court of Appeal has now ruled that the judge was wrong in the way he approached the case. It said that Ms Hammans should not be forced to sell her home to provide an income. The judge had also been wrong and unclear in the way he calculated the level of interest that Ms Hammans might earn on her investments.

The appeal judges ruled that a fresh hearing was needed to re-assess the issues and ensure that there was a fair distribution of assets between the couple. Lord Justice Ryder said: “To do otherwise is to discriminate against the wife because she is not the income earner.”

We shall keep clients informed of developments.

Please contact Charles Goodbody in our Warminster office on 01985 214444 or email cgoodbody@mulaw.co.uk  if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law.