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Don’t Wives And Mothers Make a ‘Special Contribution’ as Well?

By Principal Lawyer, Family Law

Just how much are you worth as a wife and mother?

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It’s not a question many of us will ever have been faced with but it’s something Ryan Giggs’s estranged wife Stacey will be forced to consider as her decree nisi was granted last week.

Stacey’s soon-to-be ex-husband, former Manchester United and Wales star Giggs, had previously argued that he made a “special contribution” to the marriage and should consequently be entitled to more than half their assets.

To succeed with this argument, he must convince the court of his exceptionally high acumen, drive or financial genius.

While Giggs - who made a record 963 appearances for United and won 64 Welsh international cups - retired as a player three years ago, he subsequently worked as Manchester United’s interim manager for a short spell and is worth around £40million.

But how does Stacey – who has two children with Ryan – demonstrate her worth in the relationship?

She doesn’t have to.

It’s a rare case and it is more likely that a court will look at Stacey’s contribution as a wife and mother over the course of their ten year marriage and conclude that is significant and special enough to grant her a substantial share of the marital pot.

Historically courts used to think that wives who hadn’t been employed shouldn’t get an equal share of the wealth but, as time has moved on, the role of wives as homemakers has been proved equally as important as the breadwinner.

Ryan Giggs’s case is about special contribution though which is a little different and quite unique.

Special contributions are notoriously difficult to have approved by a judge. 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.

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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 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. Whether Giggs has a ‘spark of genius’ is debatable particularly as there are a number of premier league footballers whom have achieved similar to him. It is a very difficult argument to succeed.

While the decree nisi is a step in the right direction for Stacey, she must still wait six weeks and one day before applying for a decree absolute, which finalises the divorce, and I suspect she will be advised to delay that application until a financial settlement has been agreed by both parties, as she may lose the right to claim under his pension schemes.

It’s a rare case and it is more likely that a court will look at Stacey’s contribution as a wife and mother over the course of their ten year marriage and conclude that is significant and special enough to grant her a substantial share of the marital pot.

If you would like advice from a family lawyer then please call Slater and Gordon on 0808 175 7710 or contact us online

Lorraine Harvey is a senior family law solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.

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