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22 October 2014

High-flying housewife seeks larger slice of ex's £11M fortune

Julia Hammans says she 'sacrificed' her career during marriage to husband Nicholas, who went on to become a partner in Price Waterhouse Coopers while she is being forced to sell the family home, reports The Telegraph.

Julia Hammans, 55, claims that despite their initial equality, her income is now ten times smaller than his.

While her husband, Nicholas Hammans, went on to become a multi-millionare partner at Price Waterhouse Coopers, sometimes earning more than £900,000 a year, she is being forced to sell the £1.75M family home.

She said their divorce left her in a 'radically different' position and that she should be entitled to compensation for giving up her potential earnings.

Mrs Hammans was finance director at high-end London department store, Dickens and Jones, with a seat on the board, when she fell pregnant with their first child and gave up work by agreement with her husband, now 54.

When the couple separated after 21 years of marriage, a judge ruled that the mother of two needed £80,000 a year to live on.

She was allowed to remain in the family's £1.75 million six-bedroomed Edwardian home and was given a £400,000 cash settlement.

The judge ordered that she must sell the property in order to help fund her own future living expenses.

But Mrs Hamman argued that she deserved to live a similarly 'affluent' lifestyle to her former husband. She is fighting for an extra £2.2M to enable her to keep her 'dear' home.

Her barrister told the Court of Appeal that Mr Hammans's career had in part taken off 'through her investment, her sacrifice'.

Patrick Chamberlayne QC, said:
'There ought to be an acknowledgement of what she has given up, but there has not been. Lip service is being paid to it, and she has to sell her house. Husband and wife are left in radically different positions by this judgement and that cannot be right.'
He said the case raised a general point of principle about the struggle of former high-achieving wives to get fair deals from the divorce courts.
'It clearly is discriminatory that wives have to jump through these hurdles in order to qualify for a fair outcome,' he added. 'This wife proved she had given up a well paid lucrative career - that is enough.'
Mr and Mrs Hammans married in 1983 and had their first child in 1989.

The couple enjoyed a high standard of living on his 'very big earnings' until they split in 2004.

But when Mr Justice Coleridge, sitting in the High Court Family Division, divided the family fortune, which Mrs Hammans values at £11M, he ruled that she needed £80,000-a-year to live on, which she could generate largely herself from interest on her £1m savings and by releasing cash from her home and moving somewhere smaller.

She had sought a further £2.6M from her former husband, but the judge told Mr Hammans to pay just £400,000.

She is challenging what she claims was an unfair division of marital wealth at the Court of Appeal.

Her lawyers argue she is entitled to 'compensation' from her husband's earnings to make up for the working life she 'sacrificed' for her family.

Read more on this story here.