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'Genius' claim gets short shrift in divorce fight

'Genius' claim gets short shrift in divorce fight


Tag should be reserved only for 'exceptional' talent like Mozart and Einstein, says judge

A former private equity executive has failed to convince the Court of Appeal that he deserves a larger share of a divorce settlement because of his 'genius' money-making skills.

Randy Work, a former Lone Star executive, had tried to overturn an earlier ruling that gave an equal share of a $230m fortune to his ex-wife, Mandy Gray, by claiming he had made a special financial contribution to their marriage.

The three judges disagreed, however, with Mr Justice Holman saying Work's success was partly a result of being in the 'right place at the right time'.

Holman, who was the trial judge in the High Court, added that the word 'genius' was 'overused' and should be reserved only for 'exceptional' talent as displayed by Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, and Einstein.

The case has raised excitement among divorce lawyers who are eagerly awaiting the possibility of ex-footballer Ryan Giggs using the 'special contribution' line in his divorce proceedings currently before the High Court.

Commenting on the cases, Joanna Farrands, a partner at Barlow Robbins, said: 'The bar has been set so high as to perhaps be insurmountable in terms of the special contribution 'genius' argument.

'It is hard to imagine any cases that would succeed on arguments that one spouse would receive a higher proportion of family wealth because of a genius quality.

'The Ryan Giggs case is apparently pleading the same but on these facts he should not be successful unless football skill is rated higher than financial and investment prowess. It will be interesting to see the outcome.'

Michael Rowlands, family law partner at Kingsley Napley, added: 'It looks like goodbye to the hedge funders divorce defence as 50 per cent becomes the new 37.5 per cent. It will be interesting to see if Ryan Giggs' feet will give divorce lawyers a final chance to play the percentages and whether genius is no longer measured only by the size of your wallet.'

Jo Carr-West, partner in the family department at Hunters Solicitors, added: 'It remains to be seen whether the courts think that the skill of Mr Giggs' left foot equates to the compositional genius of Mozart.'