House of Lords ruling: Miller and Mcfarlane

24 May 2006

Commenting on today’s ground-breaking ruling, Andrew Greensmith, chairman of the 5,000 strong family law group, Resolution, said:

“These judgments have a major impact for those involved in family law. The previous House of Lords case, handed down five years ago confirmed an equal share of assets as a general rule. These two cases make other issues clear.

“Behaviour should not be an issue when assets are divided, and this judgment confirms that – which is very welcome. It clarifies that the starting point for division is a fair share of what has been built up during the marriage, provided basic needs are met. As a result, we expect that, where people bring assets to a marriage, they are more likely to think seriously about making a pre-marital agreement.

“The McFarlane judgment tackles the tricky issue of fairness when couples split. It makes clear the value of the home-maker role and gives reassurance to career professionals who take a career break to raise children.

“As marriage is a partnership of equals, the earning-ability of one, based on the career sacrifice of the other, should be shared, even if the relationship ends. Of course, this only applies where there is a surplus beyond needs. The reality is that, for most couples, making ends meet remains a major challenge.

“Resolution solicitors strive to minimise both the emotional and financial cost of family break-up. We hope that the clarity provided by these judgments will enable more families to find, with professional advice, fair solutions quicker.”