Unhappy stay-at-home parents given new hope by divorce ruling

Randy Work divorce hearing
Randy Work divorce hearing

The divorce of Millionaire US banker Randy Work and his ex wife Mandy Gray doesn't immediately seem like the kind of thing to have much impact on our life. However, for stay-at-home parents, their divorce brings excellent news about their prospects in the event of a split.

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The divorce seems as far removed as possible from most people's lives, as they have been fighting over a £140 million fortune - including a £30 million mansion in Kensington and a £18 million ski lodge in Aspen. However, it has key implications for families.

In their original divorce in 2015, the couple's assets were split equally, so they were each granted an impressive £70 million after their 20-year marriage.

The judgement reflected the fact that while Work built up his fortune, Gray contributed to the home by bringing up and caring for their children.

Randy Work divorce hearing
Randy Work divorce hearing

Work was unhappy with this. He went back to court, arguing that his was a special case. In order to convince the court, he would have to argue that he made a 'special contribution' using an 'exceptional quality or genius', which was responsible for the assets the family had amassed.

It's this approach that Ryan Giggs is expected to use when he goes to the High Court over his divorce settlement, which had a preliminary hearing this week.

Work tried this approach, but the Court of Appeal dismissed his argument, pointing out that Work was in the right place at the right time when he went to Japan to set up an office for his employer during the boom. The judges also highlighted that Gray had given up her career in order to look after her family, and that it was partly due to her willingness to move the family to Japan that he was able to make all this money.

Why this matters

This has ramifications for any family where one parent works and the other cares for the children - or where one parent earns more, and the other shoulders more of the burden at home.

The system in England works on the basis that assets should be split 50:50 - which will vary according to their circumstances. The over-riding priority is that each party should have their financial needs met.

The court has the discretion to consider the contribution both the husband and wife have made, but this ruling makes it clear that they cannot discriminate between the person who earns the most and the one that looks after the family.

It makes England one of the most generous places in the world when it comes to the less financially-powerful half of any married couple.

For any stay-at-home parents who feel they cannot afford to leave an unhappy marriage, it offers the hope that a divorce would not leave them as badly off as they feared.