Mr Lawrence and Mr Gallagher began living together in the London flat owned by the Mr Lawrence in 1997, and entered into a civil partnership in 2007. They separated in 2008. Although the couple had only been in a civil partnership for a year, the court considered it an unbroken 11 year relationship, as they would have done if it were a heterosexual couple without children who had cohabited for 10 years and been married for one year.
The case was always guaranteed to make headlines, being the first of its kind, however in reality, (and as expected) the law applies in just the same way as a heterosexual couple divorcing and the case therefore contains the same difficulties of balance.
One of the most contentious issues in big money cases is the division of assets which were pre-owned by one party before the relationship, and so it was in this case. Mr Lawrence claimed that giving Mr Gallagher 45% of the couple’s assets was ‘flawed’ because his London flat, now worth £2.4 million, should have been excluded from the calculations. Mr Lawrence also argued that his former partner’s share of the joint £4 million assets should be based on need, which Lord Justice Thorpe said was ‘quite unrealistic.’
At first instance it had been ordered that Mr Lawrence keep the flat and Mr Gallagher keep the cottage, with Mr Gallagher awarded a lump sum of £577,778 to reflect the disparity in the value of the two properties. But the Court of Appeal said that the sum had been calculated on ‘too theoretical’ a basis and cut it to £350,000 leaving him a total of £1.46 million.
Published on 20/04/2012