The issue arose in a recent case before the High Court. The husband had founded a successful company in the early years of the marriage. Both husband and wife had made a substantial loan to the business and were both receiving repayments at the time of the divorce.
The shares in the company were worth £32m but could not be sold until at least two years after the separation. During this time, the husband continued to work for the company but the wife had no involvement.
The husband accepted that an equal division of the shares would have been fair up until the end of the marriage. The issue was whether that principle of equal shares should still apply two or more years after the separation.
The court held that the value of the shares would in part be the product of the husband’s endeavours rather than the couple’s joint endeavours and therefore would not be marital property.
The weight to give the husband’s post-marital efforts was part of the court’s discretion. It decided that the fairest outcome would be to award the husband a 55% share and the wife a 45% share.