David Beckham’s new documentary ‘BECKHAM’ aired on Netflix on 4th October 2023. This has already proved increasingly popular, giving behind the scenes access to the infamous couple ‘Posh and Becks’. The documentary explores David’s career but also the couple’s marriage and family life, including the difficulties they have faced over their 24-year marriage.
The documentary addressed David’s alleged affair with his assistant Rebecca Loos in 2003, when he was playing for Real Madrid.
David’s wife, Victoria Beckham, spoke out in the documentary about how this was the “hardest period” of her marriage, Victoria explains that she was “the most unhappy I have ever been”.
David did not admit nor deny the accusations, but he commented that “it was the first time that me and Victoria had been put under that kind of pressure in our marriage”.
The couple were scrutinised by the British press for their marital issues and the disclosure of an alleged affair was hot topic in the papers. Fortunately, most couples having marital difficulties are not presented with the additional pressure of being in the public eye, however this is not to say it is not devastatingly difficult. Infidelity remains a major factor for marriage breakdown, statistics from a study undertaken in 2021 suggest that 25.4% of married men and 18.8% of married women have committed adultery at least once during their marriage.
The documentary illustrates that David and Victoria Beckham were able to work through their difficulties and remain married. But, what would have happened if Victoria decided that she could not overcome the alleged affair, and she wished to end her marriage to David?
Had Victoria decided to separate from David Beckham, the next step would have been to take the initial step in ending their marriage which would be to instigate divorce proceedings.
In 2003, the law relating to divorce was slightly different which would have meant that Victoria could have used David’s adultery to illustrate to the Court the reasoning for why their marriage had broken down.
In 2023, the law has now changed meaning that divorce is ‘no-fault’ based. This means that parties who wish to get divorced do not have to provide an explanation to the Court as to why their marriage has broken down. Instead, a divorce can be on the basis that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, with no blame apportioned to either party.
It would have then been necessary to consider the financial arrangements to ensure that a financial settlement was reached which was fair and reasonable for both David and Victoria.
The principles to which the Court will have regard when determining what a “fair” settlement looks like, are enshrined under Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 as applied to various decided cases, which, whilst binding upon the Court, still does provide the Court with some discretion. In other words, these “principles” are not concrete rules and every case is decided on its merits which allows the Courts a degree of flexibility when reaching decisions.
A simple overview of those principles is as follows; with first consideration being given to the welfare (whilst a minor) of any child of the family who has not attained the age of 18:
- the income earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
- the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
- the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;
- the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;
- any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;
- the contribution made by each of the parties to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family;
- the value to either of the parties to the marriage of any benefit (for example, a pension) which that party will lose the chance of acquiring.
The terms of the financial settlement could have been reached directly between the couple, without the involvement of the court in determining an overall financial settlement.
At the time of the alleged affair, Victoria and David shared two children together, Brooklyn and Cruz. Had Victoria and David separated, arrangements would have needed to be made to determine who the children would live with, and how regularly they would spend time with the other parent. Had this issue have been placed before the Court for consideration as to what child arrangements order should be made, the Court would have considered the following factors:
- The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the children concerned (considered in light of their age and understanding)
- The children’s physical, emotional and educational needs
- The likely effect on the children of any change in circumstances
- The age, sex, background and any characteristics of the children which the court considers relevant.
- Any risk of harm that the children have suffered or are at risk of suffering
- The capability of each of the children’s parents.
Of course, it is entirely possible that the arrangements for the children could be agreed between the parents without court involvement.
Mending your marriage after an affair
“The documentary shows that the parties remain happily married. The famous couple therefore have not needed to pursue divorce, financial or children matters further. However, should you be faced with similar difficulty in your marriage and feel that you need advice or assistance in deciding on your options, please contact Sinclair law for free 30-minute consultation.”
Amelia Fernley, Family Lawyer, Sinclair Law Solicitors