A WIFE who made millions in “eye-watering” bonuses as a city trader is battling her cheat ex-husband after a divorce judge awarded him HALF of her fortune.
Energy trader Julie Sharp and IT consultant Robin Sharp both earned around £100,000 when they met, but during their five-year relationship she also received bonuses of £10.5million.
On the strength of her “windfall”, they bought two lavish country houses in Gloucestershire – the second with a £2 million price tag which cost £500,000 to refurbish.
Mrs Sharp, now 44, took pleasure in giving her partner expensive presents – including a top-of-the-range Aston Martin.
But despite her sudden wealth she was adamant that her husband “didn’t see her as a sort of cash machine”.
By the time they split up – after she discovered he had started a new relationship – the “matrimonial pot” stood at £6.9 million.
In a case which could have implications for other divorcing couples, she is now appealing against a family judge’s 2015 decision that Sharp was entitled to an equal share.
Mr Sharp ended up with an award of £2,737,000, which included a lump sum of £60,000 to offset a claim for a share of his wife’s pension.
The couple’s total assets amounted to around £6.9million – with virtually all the wealth stemming from the wife when she petitioned for divorce in December 2013.
Mrs Sharp, a mathematics graduate from a “modest financial background” who worked diligently to carve out her high-flying career, is now appealing that ruling.
Frank Feehan QC criticised the judge’s approach as “intrinsically unfair” in light of the brevity of the marriage, lack of children, and her massive financial contribution.
Despite her stellar earnings, the judge approached the case on the basis of a fifty/fifty split, although he reduced Mr Sharp’s payout to reflect “unmingled” assets that his wife built up before the marriage.
“The notion that equal sharing applied in this case made for an unprincipled decision,” Mr Feehan told three Appeal Court judges.
Mrs Sharp had proposed that her ex should walk away with £1,197,000, which would more than cover his needs, he added.
Throughout their time together the couple maintained largely separate finances, he added, “earning and spending their own money”.
They took turns to pick up the bill when dining out and, during the marriage, Mr Sharp himself accepted the “bonuses were not his”.
He “went out of his way to explain that he did not see her as a sort of cash machine on whose financial resources he would have a call”, said Mr Feehan.
And although Mrs Sharp had shelled out on “expensive gifts” for her spouse this did not reflect “shared finances”, said the QC.
It was her wealth which enabled the couple to buy their two luxury homes, the court heard – the first of which was acquired by her before they wed.
However, Mr Sharp, aged 43, insists he made a major contribution by project managing and carrying out renovation works on their two properties – particularly after he took redundancy in 2012.
That was after Mrs Sharp bought their second home – Long Chargrove, in Shurdington, near Cheltenham, a sprawling six-bedroom manor house with two acres attached.
Mr Sharp’s QC, Jonathan Southgate, said he deserved half of the marital pot and there was ample evidence of the couple’s intentions to pool their resources.
Even though Mrs Sharp had not paid her bonuses into a joint account this was common in many “traditional” marriages where the breadwinner retains earnings and “pays housekeeping to the other spouse”, he argued.
Mr Sharp was clear in his evidence that “they agreed he should take redundancy and stay at home – redeveloping their home and supporting their joint life together”.
Lords Justice McFarlane, McCombe and David Richards have now reserved their decision on Mrs Sharp’s appeal.