Calculating equality when dividing marital assets – the case of SK v TK Image

Calculating equality when dividing marital assets – the case of SK v TK

Posted: 02/10/2014

High Court judge Mr Justice Moor has given a clear and decisive judgement in the recent case of SK v TK [2013] EWHC 834 in which a husband sought to justify that assets should be divided unequally.

The husband was a successful technology entrepreneur and asked the court to consider a 60:40 division of assets on three grounds. Firstly on the basis that he had made a 'special contribution', secondly due to the assets he had accumulated before the marriage and finally to take into account the fact that he would be receiving riskier assets as his share of the settlement if he were to retain the entire shareholding in his company.

Mr Justice Moor rejected all the husband’s arguments and concluded that the case was one for an equal division of assets. While the husband was a very able businessman who had built up a valuable enterprise, his contribution was not one which could be considered to be exceptional. In relation to pre-acquired assets, the assets the husband had brought into the marriage, the judge did not think that the business in question had any significant value when the parties began living together and it was not until after the parties had married that the business began to increase in value.

It was in relation to risk laden assets that the husband came closest to convincing Mr Justice Moor of the validity of his argument. While the husband’s argument was dismissed, it was factored into the overall outcome by applying a more conservative value of the company.

Anna Worwood, partner in Penningtons Manches' family team, commented: “This judgment shows a determination by the court to depart from equality only in truly exceptional circumstances. This approach is balanced against the need to recognise that not all assets can be considered in the same light but this can be addressed through carefully valuing a business rather than ordering that one party should receive a greater share of the assets.”

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