Former Manchester United footballer, Ryan Giggs, is attempting to persuade judges that his estranged wife should receive less than half of his assets, because of his alleged ‘genius status.’
Ryan and Stacey Giggs, who had been married for ten years, are divorcing amidst allegations of serial infidelity on his part.
The footballer’s legal team have told a divorce hearing that that he should keep more than half of his £40million fortune because of his ‘special contribution’ to the couple’s finances.
The argument that Giggs should be recognised as having ‘genius status’, is rare in divorce proceedings but does have legal precedent.
In 2001, a Court of Appeal ruled that millionaire Michael Cowan, who had made his fortune from bin liners, was entitled to keep 62 per cent of his £12million worth of assets because “his contribution, in terms of entrepreneurial flair, inventiveness and hard work, was truly exceptional”.
Divorce lawyers acting for the 43-year-old footballer have told the High Court that witnesses will attest to his ‘spark of genius’ which led to him amassing the couple’s fortune during their ten year marriage and that this should take precedence over the divorce court’s usual view that homebuilding and companionship are of equal importance to breadwinning.
Surjit Verdi, a family law expert with Palmers, said: “The idea of an equal 50/50 split is in itself relatively recent as historically the courts used calculations known as a ‘Duxbury’ table to work out how much it was felt an ex-wife “reasonably needed”.
“In 2000, a landmark divorce case was taken to the House of Lords after Pamela White argued that the court’s award of just £800,000 of her former husband Martin White’s £4.6million farming fortune was unfair. The House of Lords sided with her, stating that divorce settlements should start from the premise that there should be a 50/50 split and then examine if there is any strong argument for departing from this equitable formula.
“The Cowan case successfully pleaded that the husband’s ‘special contribution’ to the marriage was exceptional. Since then, many wealthy men have also tried to invoke ‘genius status’ in a bid to keep more than half of their assets but very few have succeeded. Whether Ryan Giggs’ legal team will successfully persuade the court that their client is sufficiently “exceptional” remains to be seen.
“Although most people contemplating divorce will not have the multi-million pound fortunes of couples like the Cowans or the Giggs, it is nevertheless important to seek expert legal advice to ensure that financial settlements are fair and take account of any special circumstances which might apply.”
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