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Ring fencing assets accrued pre-marriage

01 March 2010

We acted for the wife in ancillary relief proceedings. The parties had been married for 22 years and co-habited for 5 years prior to the marriage. There were no children of the marriage. Throughout the marriage both parties had mainly been in employment and both parties were in employment at the time of separation. It was agreed that the former matrimonial home would be sold and the net proceeds divided equally.  

The husband sought to exclude from the marital pot a pension and lump sum that he had received at the start of the relationship. This was on the basis that the majority of the pension in question had accrued prior to the parties relationship and that there was a period of 14 months only when he was contributing to this particular pension whilst living with the wife. He contended that this period accounted for only 16% of his pensionable service.  

The husband therefore sought to ring fence the pension and the enhancement of the investment that had materialised by virtue of the pension fund.

The district judge found the husband’s position to have little merit and to be highly artificial. He commented that the husband had done absolutely nothing (except to remain alive) to contribute to the enhanced value of the asset. Furthermore, when the parties married there was little value in the pension as contributions had only been made for 6 years. The district judge concluded that it seemed inequitable after such a long period of time to allow the husband to retain the benefit of the particular investment and found nothing to justify a departure from the yardstick of equality of division.

We successfully obtained an equal share of the husband’s pension on behalf of the wife.