Jersey: What's More Important; Business Or Home?

When a marriage breaks down and one party issues divorce proceedings it can be a difficult time for everybody involved. Once the issue of the financial settlement is reached things usually become more fraught. A thorny issue which some believe is raising its head again is whether the contribution made by the "breadwinner" (usually the husband) is more important than that made by the homemaker in cases where the assets are large and capable of meeting the needs of both husband and wife.

When the Family Court makes an order it does so bearing in mind what lawyers call the "section 25 factors" these are factors set out in English Law and the practice of the Jersey Court is to take these into account when looking at how assets should be dealt with upon divorce. The Courts look at all of these factors and give greater or lesser weight to each, depending on the factors of the case. Many moons ago in high asset cases the Courts looked at the non-­ breadwinner's needs (usually this was the wife) and made an order on that basis with the breadwinner retaining the remaining assets namely the bulk of the matrimonial property.

In 2001 the well-­known English case of White v White dealt with the issue of how assets should be divided although the Judgment is often misunderstood. White v White was a case where the matrimonial assets were substantial and both parties needs could be met, the question arose of how to deal with the surplus monies. The marriage was a long one of 33 years, the wife had initially been heavily involved with the family farming business but had reduced her involvement and looked after the house and children but still worked hard within the business.

The court said there should be " bias in favour of the money-­earner and against the home-­maker and the child-­ carer..." where there had been equal contribution to the family. The Court also stated that there was nothing in the law stating that where assets exceed needs, the surplus should belong to only one party. The settlement should be fair not equal. On the facts of each case different factors would carry different weight when considering how the assets should be split. It could not be that just because the needs of one party are met the other should retain all the remaining assets.

The Court specifically stated that the starting point of each case was not an equal division of the assets but that as a general guide, equality should be departed from if the factors of the case required it, with a check against equal division to ensure that no discrimination had occurred. This has become known as the "yardstick of equality" which has been misunderstood by many. In White v White, the wife received approximately 40% of the matrimonial assets rather than half. The Court had given weight to the fact that the assets were tied up in the family farm and that it would be wrong to force sale to give her more in the circumstances.

One of the section 25 factors is the extent to which the parties have each contributed to the welfare of the family during the marriage and the extent to which each will contribute in the future. This has led the Courts to consider whether one party's contribution in creating the wealth of the family should be taken account of over and above the other's role. In the case of Lambert v Lambert (2002) the Court said that an attempt to reduce the award to a wife due to the husband's special contribution was only available in exceptional cases and would often be difficult to establish in practice.

The impact of "special contribution" by one party as a factor in determining an award was set out in the English case of Charman v Charman (2007) which gave guidance that the minimum an award could be varied from equality is 5% up or down from 50% otherwise the variation was so slight that it would be a token variation rather than a genuine one. The Court considered the most generous split to be a 66.6% -­ 33.3% split of assets.

Since this case there have been many well publicised English decisions involving wealthy couples and the awards made. In the majority of cases the main "breadwinner" has been the husband. The English Courts have built up a reputation for being a generous jurisdiction in which to divorce. However, what the majority of these cases have in common is that the settlements have not been an equal division of assets. There has been a degree of media frenzy which is largely down to a new breed of super-­wealthy divorcing couples where the Courts have given large awards to the "non-­breadwinner".

The reason why awards to the wives have been lower than 50% of the assets has depended on a number of case-­ specific factors. However, the Courts have frequently been influenced by the argument that the husband has made a special contribution and that should be reflected in any award given. In the case of Charman the wife received 36.5% of the assets on the basis of this argument.

The most recent case in England is Cooper-­Hohn v Hohn (2014) where the wife received 36% of the matrimonial assets in the sum of $530 million. On the facts the Court decided that the husband had made a special contribution to the wealth accrued during the marriage and in addition the exponential growth of the husband's business after the couple separated was solely due to the husband and his abilities. He was referred to as a financial "genius". This decision may yet be appealed.

The Court was persuaded that the husband had contributed over and above in relation to the business, they also accepted that he was in effect the business and therefore the business did not have a value of its own. He was the reason that people chose him to invest their monies given his exceptional talent at making money. It was he who had the value not the company. The Court was persuaded that the wife should not have the benefit of the growth of the husband's business post-­separation. This was considered to be due to the husband's skills alone and therefore had to be dealt with differently from wealth attained during the course of the marriage.

The Court did not apply a strict formulaic approach to the assets when calculating what the wife would receive. It looked at the case as a whole and made an order it considered fair taking into account the relevant factors cross-­checking this against the yardstick of equality and the movement away from an equal division.

In Jersey the Family Court has consistently referred to the need for fairness and through case law has adopted the same approach as in White v White and the subsequent cases. It remains to be seen whether the division of assets in Cooper-­ Hohn v Hohn will change how the Court are looking at financial cases and whether this is the end of equality between business and home. I would argue not. Cooper-­Hohn confirms the long standing position that fairness is what is sought when dealing with financial settlement upon divorce and that each case will depend on its facts and its facts alone. Sometimes fairness will involve assets being split on a 50% -­ 50% basis and other times not.

This article was first featured in the April 2015 Edition of Jersey Life Magazine.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.