08 November 2017
Citywealth: What trends are you seeing with women in the divorce and family sector?
Davina Katz: One obvious trend is divorce tourism: women bringing divorce proceedings in England, because far from being a cradle of gender equality our legal system inclines to protect women who are homemakers by recognising their contribution as equal to that of breadwinners and sharing marital wealth equally upon divorce.
There are few other jurisdictions which hold a candle to the court system in England and wales when it comes to favourable financial outcomes for women upon divorce. Another is the increase in the number of couples who are entering into pre-nuptial agreements – and the fall out which we are starting to see now – of some of those women who signed up to those agreements now challenging their punity upon divorce. The writing is very much on the wall.
Citywealth: Has the divorce capital of the world generated substantial wealth for women using it our legal system or is that a myth?
Davina Katz: There is no question that the courts in England and Wales have generated substantial wealth for women divorcing here. This has been a matter of fact ever since the case of White v White and the recognition which it gave to breadwinners and homemakers making contributions that entitle spouses to share equally in wealth generated during the marriage. There are those women who have spent their married lives here and then brought divorce proceedings here who have been awarded very substantial settlements; and there are also women who were actually divorced in another country and then brought financial proceedings following an overseas divorce in England . In both cases, women have benefitted very substantially by seeking the assistance and protection of the British justice system. There is no myth.
Citywealth: What is the trend for Russian divorces in London about? Is it instigated by women or men?
Davina Katz: I have not observed a trend for Russian divorces that is not the same for middle eastern divorces: clients, more often women than men, do their diligence regarding the most favourable jurisdiction in which to bring divorce proceedings, and inevitably conclude that England is one of the best countries for the economically weaker party – usually but not always the wife – to divorce in. They plan and arrange their affairs meticulously – there are criteria to meet in order to be able to legitimately divorce in this country, and meeting those criteria takes some time . In my experience, wealthy men do not rush to divorce in London – and for good reason.
Citywealth: Are women divorcing more?
Davina Katz: Although it is not apparent if you spend any time in my office ,the number of divorces in England has actually declined over the last decade, albeit slowly. I suspect the decrease in the number of divorces is related to the fact that more couples are choosing to cohabit rather than marry. Within that trend, I see an even spread of women and men who instigate divorces.
Citywealth: Has equality and cultural change with women working led to different divorce patterns?
Davina Katz: I think it is less about equality, perceived or otherwise, and cultural change with women which is generating different divorce patterns – it is more the reality that relationships and marriages are unquestionably more disposable than ever. Partly because the taboo around divorce has faded, partly because of the insurgence of pre-nuptial agreements which allow couples to make their own law of what is fair in terms of an asset split, and partly because like so much else these days people are quick to bore and move on.
While the number of divorces in England has declined over the last decade the statistics show that the length of those marriages which have been dissolved in the last decade is growing shorter than it was in the decades before that.
Excerpts of Davina's Q&A were first published by Citywealth on 6th October 2017. Click here to access the article.