Need help through a divorce? What counts when a financial settlement is in the process of being decided?
The breakdown of a relationship is often a challenging time for all parties, and financial concerns can be a significant factor. Here we’ll look at what impacts a financial settlement, helping you get a clearer picture of how these decisions are made. Within this article, we’ll be considering relationships that have been formalised through marriage or civil partnership. For unmarried couples or cohabitees, a separation would be handled by a civil (not family) court, so the considerations will be different. In either situation, a family law solicitor will be able to help you with any questions.
Handling Financial Disputes with Fairness
It’s important to remember that Family Law cases are handled with a focus on fairness. While equal treatment for all parties is a straightforward concept, many factors can make these arrangements quite complex.
Let’s consider what’s being divided up…
Whether your family home is jointly owned or in the name of one party, what happens to it will depend on more than just whose name is on the paperwork. In fact, this is true of any properties owned by one or both members of a marriage, including any property abroad. While you might expect sole ownership to provide security to the holder, there are many times when a court will determine the fairest outcome requires sharing properties – even those held in a party’s sole name.
Any assets worth over £500 will be relevant when it comes to a fair division after separation. The question of who brought items into the marriage will be a factor, as well as when they were purchased. But while attention will be given to who originally owned the asset, joint or sole ownership does not necessarily determine how these assets will be divided.
Full and frank financial disclosure is required before assessing how assets should be divided. Documents including bank statements, pension valuations, savings and investments, mortgage statements, property valuations, wage slips, tax returns and more will be required to ensure a clear picture of each party’s true financial position. Inherited assets owned before the start of the relationship may, under certain circumstances, be eligible for division. Protecting pre-marital assets is best done through a pre-nuptial agreement.
If either party in a relationship owns a business, this will bring additional complexity to the division of assets, and you will need legal advice.
These can be the most challenging of assets to both value and create fairness on division. The size and nature of a pension fund will have a significant bearing on how these assets are dealt with by the court.
What is relevant when deciding how matrimonial assets are divided?
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, fairness is fundamental when determining how assets are divided at the end of a marriage. When making decisions on a fair division of assets, some of the factors taken into consideration by a court will be:
- Children of the marriage
- The length of the marriage and the separation
- The age and health of those in the relationship
- The financial and physical dependency of the parties
- The parties’ overall needs
- Each party’s income, potential income and other financial resources
- A determination of whether the court is dealing with matrimonial or non-matrimonial assets
Getting a fair settlement
There are many factors the court must take into account when determining a fair financial settlement. This is a very brief overview of what needs to be considered before a suitable division of matrimonial assets can be achieved. But, with the help of a family law solicitor, you will get a much clearer picture of your position and how the process is likely to work for you.
Whatever your expectations of your entitlement, it’s worth talking things through with a family law solicitor and making sure there has been full financial disclosure on both sides. If you are looking for legal support through your relationship breakdown, I’m here to help.
This note is not intended to substitute legal advice from your instructed lawyer. You should always consult with your lawyer directly regarding any specific queries you may have.