Do England's heroic endeavours in the Rugby World Cup make them "special" in their own right?

This week will see England take on the mighty All Blacks in the semi-final game of the World Cup. Following England’s historic victory last week, which halted the Australians’ path, the World Cup now hangs in the balance.

With England’s triumph fresh in my mind, it got me thinking, the accolades sporting icons achieve in their careers and how these achievements are used and argued in the Family Courts in ongoing divorce proceedings can be key.

                 

You only have to look back to April 2017 to see Ryan Giggs’ divorce from Stacey and his argument that he had made a “stellar contribution to the marriage and should be awarded more than 50% of the matrimonial pot due to his ‘special contribution’ - the claim that he is, in fact, a genius! 

Now many a football fan who doesn't support the Red Devils would argue against Giggs’ genius tendencies with relative ease. But if we turn our attention to the achievement of our rugby players on the other side of the world - the argument perhaps feels a little easier! 

The nation has fallen in love with the passion of England and would enjoy nothing more than seeing the All Blacks lose on Saturday. The players putting their bodies on the line for the cause and arguably returning home as heroes got me thinking - would the financial rewards for such an achievement constitute a special contribution to the marriage and the need to deviate off the principle established in White v White. 

First and foremost the principle at the start of any divorce proceedings are that all assets, property, income, liabilities, stocks, shares, pots and pans are put in a ‘matrimonial pot’ and of that matrimonial pot it is split 50:50, albeit taking into account the s.25 factors of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.  

A special or ‘genius’ contribution would be to deviate off the principle of the yardstick of equality and show that one party has made a special contribution to the marriage which would warrant an award outside an equal split. 

It is not just sportsmen who are arguing that there should not be an equal split. In May 2017, American tycoon, Randy Work, failed to succeed in arguing that he, in fact, was a ‘genius’. The Court of Appeal agreed with an earlier ruling that it would be “unjustifiably gender-discriminatory to make an unequal award. This was a marriage of two strong and equal partners over 20 years.”

Ruling on their divorce in 2015, Mr Justice Holman told the businessman that his wealth contribution was not “wholly exceptional” and rejected his claim to be a financial ‘genius’. “I personally find that a difficult, and perhaps unhelpful, the word in this context,” Holman said, “to my mind, the word ‘genius’ tends to be overused and is properly reserved for Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Einstein and others like them.” 

To my mind, the argument of special contribution to a marriage is a difficult argument to run but one which wealthy individuals will continue to try. Why? Because the financial benefits of succeeding can be so great! Despite England’s impending heroics, it is unlikely that they will constitute a ‘genius’ if any of the 47 squad members file for divorce in the coming months.

Let's just hope this doesn’t put too much of a downer on their efforts and they continue to roar on Saturday!