Katie Hopkins has been on the war path again this week, this time her missiles were pointed firmly at women going through divorce. In her column on The Mail online she makes comment on the recent Duncan Bannatyne divorce case, in which it is alleged Dragon’s Den star and businessman Bannatyne hid £10 million in assets from his ex-wife.
Hopkins in her classically satirical tone outlines that women expect to be treated like princesses in divorce settlements. Her article also has a tone of encouragement towards the hiding of assets, stating;
“But who can blame him? Divorces are grubby things, weighed heavily in favour of the woman.”
The hiding of assets is never something to be encouraged as it distorts the court’s view of the marital finances and prevents it from being able to reach a just decision, depriving one partner from what is fairly theirs. She also makes reference to the recent landmark Gohill and Sharland cases:
“She argued it was never about the money but about the principle. Something only people with £10 million in their knicker drawer have the privilege of saying.”
READ MORE ABOUT THE GOHILL AND SHARLAND CASE IN OUR RECENT ARTICLE:
The cases in question reached the Supreme Court and garnered a lot of media attention, but they are part of a wider current debate within legal circles about how parties act in proceedings. Whilst Hopkins is clearly on one of her infamous rants, it raises important questions around divorce; does a marriage mean the binding of all assets? Going into a marriage, most people don’t give much thought to what might happen if a separation was ever on the cards, probably because the thought of being in that situation is hard to comprehend. So what is fair? I would suggest that fairness can be best achieved by having a frank and honest conversation where both parties can put forward what they think is right and some compromise can usually be found. That doesn’t mean splitting everything 50/50 on the value of the item, instead it might be a middle ground where the husband gets the dog because he walked it every day and the wife may keep the car because she has a greater need for it.
How do you think assets should be divided in a divorce? Perhaps you are of the 50/50 thinking? You should divide the assets straight down the middle by how much they are worth. Others believe the assets should be divided on an item by item basis to allow considerations of usage, need and sentimental value. You might even hold that marriage should not play a large role in finances, partners should keep their finances separate except for joint expenses. Whatever your opinion may be, the court takes into account a number of considerations: including but not limited to provision for children, earning capacity and existing resources of each person, financial commitments and needs of each person, the standard of living before divorce, the contribution made to the welfare of the family (not just financial contributions), the conduct of both parties if it is so extreme it cannot be ignored.
The reality is there is no set formula for working out the division of assets and is dealt with case by case in the courts. Not everything can be agreed in mediation and of course that is when then courts can play a role in helping to decide – or even take the decision out of the parties’ hands entirely. I would suggest however that reaching agreements through mediation is the best way in deciding what goes where and to whom. Being flexible around a table in a less formal setting than court allows some control over the decisions which are so impactful over a person’s life, rather than allowing the court to make the decisions.
I am in no doubt that this is not the last we have heard from Ms Hopkins on the topic of divorce and the debate on divorce, gender and fairness will continue. The ultimate decision on what is the fairest way to divide the assets really lies in the hands of the parties in the case.
If you are currently going through a divorce, or considering one, and need advice on division of assets please get in touch with Grayfords. Our solicitors specialise in family law matters, particularly where finances are involved, and can assist you with any matrimonial finance matters, including those involving business property, homes abroad and high net worth finances.
by Lewis Sweeney
This article was written by Lewis Sweeney, a guest blogger of Grayfords.
Lewis is a law student who studies at the University of Westminster.
He is in the process of completing his LLB and has aspirations of becoming a barrister.