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

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

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.

Celebs who have suffered financially after divorce
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Celebs who have suffered financially after divorce
In 2009, after a bitter divorce battle, Cleese was forced to give his third wife £8 million in cash and assets - including a £2 million Holland Park house and half a beach house in Santa Barbara. He must also pay significant alimony. He didn't run up debts during the process, but has sold a number of assets - including paintings and props, and has been on a world tour with his one man show: 'How to Finance your Divorce'.
He said in September last year that he was 'downsizing' his life, selling his ranch in Napa and returning to TV where the pay is steadier. According to Fox News he added: "Divorce is expensive. I used to joke they were going to call it 'all the money', but they changed it to 'alimony'.
The Gossip Girl actress filed for bankruptcy this year. One major contributing factor was an enormous legal bill from her divorce and custody battle with her ex-husband. Her German husband had been deported, and the divorce lawyer ruled that the couple should spend equal time with the children. Because her husband could not enter the US, he ruled that they should live with their father and Rutherford should travel to visit them. She told E!News she had "spent every penny. Every penny from Gossip Girl, my pension, my stocks has been spent fighting for my children."
One of the oddest celebrity divorce settlements was in the late 1970s when Marvin Gaye was ordered to record a new album and pay the royalties to his ex-wife. The album is called Here My Dear and includes songs such as "You can leave, but it's going to cost you'. The cost of the divorce was one of a number of factors that drove him to bankruptcy in 1979.
The Sopranos actress (who played Dr Jennifer Melfi) filed for bankruptcy in 1999. She had spent five years fighting a custody battle with her ex, Harvey Keitel, and despite getting custody of her daughter, she told the New York Times she was left $2 million in debt to the lawyers in her bankruptcy and custody cases.
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