Britain’s top divorce lawyer, Ayesha Vardag, who won the case of Katrin Radmacher last year, changing the law on prenuptial agreements in the UK, comments.“The suggestion that a woman who has borne and raised five children over many years of marriage has contributed nothing is the most appalling sexism.
It has been over a decade since the House of Lords made clear (in White v White) that there is to be no discrimination between breadwinner and homemaker.
“This case was not, however, about sharing out the fruits of the marriage.
It was about making sure both parties could go forward with their needs met, wherever the funds came from, even from inherited wealth. Needs are often interpreted with considerable largesse in big money cases.
“The Courts do seek to allow both parties to a marriage to continue their lifestyle and infrastructure so far as is reasonable. When there is plenty of money to go around and a woman has made a contribution as huge as this one, over many years of marriage, they are likely to be very generous. The way to restrict the fulsome definition of needs on divorce is to have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.”
Jennifer Grubb, 55, was awarded a £2million nine-bedroom country house set in 40 acres of parkland, £75,000 a year for child maintenance, a £1.65m lump sum to meet her ‘reasonable needs’ and other assets after splitting with Anthony Arbuthnot Watkins Grubb in July 2009.
A High Court judge agreed on the division of the couple’s £12m estate in August, after describing the couple’s wealth as ‘not the product of the endeavours’ of either of them.
Mr Grubb, 61, a chartered surveyor, yesterday challenged the decision at the Court of Appeal, claiming he had ‘arguably contributed 100 per cent’ to the fortune – most of which has been in his family for years.
However, yesterday the court upheld the original judgment.
Ayesha Vardag graduated from Cambridge University with Honours in Law and from Brussels with a Master’s in European Law, working at the International Courts of Justice in the Hague and the UN(IAEA) in Vienna. She then trained and qualified as a finance lawyer at Linklaters London and Moscow on power station and diamond mine projects, before moving on to capital markets work at New York law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges. Ayesha was called to the Bar in1999 and joined 4 New Square chambers, then crossed to family law at Sears Tooth. She founded Ayesha Vardag Solicitors, now Vardags (http://www.vardags.com) in 2005.