Family Law Special Contributions
Special contributions in Family Law financial proceedings, is a very difficult legal argument to make, although it is not unusual for one spouse to consider upon divorce that they have made an unmatched contribution over and above that of their spouse. This is an argument that Ryan Giggs is seeking to make in his financial proceedings whether he succeeds is yet to be seen but the consensus amongst most Family Law practitioners is that he will fail.

Special contributions is not a concept that sits easily with Judges in England and Wales as our jurisdiction is known for recognising the all important role of the home-maker. Some go as far as to say that the special contribution argument is discriminatory since there is not one case where a special domestic contribution has been found. Interestingly, there are no reported cases where a female has successfully made a special contribution argument.

In order to establish a special contribution the following criteria must be considered:-

1.     The existence of a large sum of money which is not a mere windfall.

2.     The existence of an exceptional individual quality that has created that fortune.

3.     In some cases the size of the fortune alone will establish the existence of an exceptional individual quality (but this has never been done).

4.     There must be a gross and obvious disparity between the parties’ contributions before a special contribution is found.

What is the purpose of seeking to establish an argument of special contributions? Bluntly put, it is so that the successful party can keep more of the capital assets and to seek a departure from the starting point of equality.

Case law demonstrates how exceptional a contribution must be, with the most recent case of Gray v Work demonstrating this. Randy, the husband in this case, sought to argue that he had made an unmatched contribution over his wife Mandy-whereas the Court did not agree either at first instance or on appeal.

Whilst it is still possible to make an argument for special contribution, the facts of the case will need to be specific in order to meet the necessary criteria. This will be a rarity.

If you believe that you may have an argument for special contribution or if you are facing an argument of this nature, do not hesitate to contact one of our specialist family law practitioners who will be able to assist you further.

Written by: Katie O’Connell

Kaite is an Associate Solicitor with Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice.

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Published 05/10/17