How special is a ‘special contribution’ in divorce?
4 May 2017
Ryan Giggs is currently in the process of dealing with the matrimonial finances following the issue of divorce proceedings. Will the court accept that his footballing prowess was enough to be considered a special contribution?
Is Ryan Giggs a genius? Well in footballing terms he may be considered by some to be (and not by others) but is he in his earning capacity?
Mr Giggs is currently in the process of dealing with the matrimonial finances following the issue of divorce proceedings. He has an estimated fortune of £40m following a 29 year career with Manchester United.
The court has heard in dealing with the matrimonial finances in Ryan Giggs’ ongoing divorce from his wife Stacey that it is his intention to argue that he made a special contribution to the marriage by way of his earnings.
At a preliminary hearing on 10 April, the Family Division of the High Court, were put on notice that in the event that the matter reaches a trial, he will call witnesses to support his claim.
Mr and Mrs Giggs were married in 2007 and have two children together.
Coincidentally, on the same day as the court were hearing Ryan Giggs’ case, another case was being heard by the Court of Appeal on the issue of special contributions.
Randy Work had been married to his wife, Mandy Gray for 20 years and have two children together. During the marriage Mr Work had amassed a fortune which was valued at divorce at £140m. In his application to the court, Mr Work argued that it was his ‘genius’ that had earned the fortune and therefore the he should have a larger share of the matrimonial assets.
When the case was first heard by the court, Mr Justice Holman rejected this claim and stated that the contribution made by Mr Work was not “wholly exceptional” and awarded that matrimonial assets be split equally between them.
Mr Work sought to change the split to 61/39 in his favour and appealed to the Court of Appeal. They dismissed Mr Work’s appeal, confirming that the judgment made by Mr Justice Holman should stand and that he did not make a ‘special contribution’ to the marriage through his earnings.
Special contributions are notoriously difficult to have approved by the Judge. In considering these cases, the court looks at whether the contribution made by one spouse that the other could not match. In looking at matrimonial finances, the court does not differentiate between a spouse who went out to work and one who stayed at home to look after the children. Their roles are given equal weight. It is often considered by the court, where there are children, that the earning power of one spouse has only been made possible by the other spouse staying at home and looking after the children.
Also, a special contribution may not necessarily have been made just because the family are wealthy, although it is more common. Each case is judged on its own facts.
In Ryan Giggs’ case, we will just have to wait and see whether the court accept that his footballing prowess was enough to be considered a special contribution by the Family Court.
The Family Lawyers at Birketts have experience in dealing with a range of marriages on divorce or separation, whether long or short, high net worth or not. We can advise you on the appropriate steps to take when there is a significant difference between couples’ incomes. We can offer a range of options including family mediation and collaborative law.
For further information or to discuss a family law matter, please contact a member of our Family Team.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at May 2017.