When a couple decides to divorce one of the biggest concerns is often the financial implications and the division of assets. You may wonder what will happen to the family home or whether you will have to make or be entitled to maintenance payments.
Following the case of White -v- White (2001) the starting point for distribution of the matrimonial assets is equal split, although departure from this is possible.
Financial arrangements can be a major point of discussion during a divorce, and it is important to keep discussions over finances separate from those regarding the arrangements of your children.
Most matters can be settled without the need to go to court and it will generally be better for the parties involved, and certainly less expensive.
If the matters do reach court, consideration is given to the welfare of any children of the family who are under 18 years old. Section 25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 sets out the kind of factors the court may consider when making financial orders such as:
- the income, earning capacity, property and resources of each person
- the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of each person
- the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage
- the age of each person, and the duration of the marriage
- any physical or mental disability
- the contribution made by each person to the welfare of the family, including looking after the home and bringing up children
- the conduct of each person, but only if it was so bad it would be unfair to ignore it
- any serious disadvantage to either person that would be caused by ending the marriage
Whilst there is case law to guide the court’s approach in deciding financial matters upon divorce, there is no actual set rule; it is ultimately the Judge’s broad discretion when applying section 25 factors to reach a fair outcome. Each case is different and will be dealt with by the court on its own merits.
When possible, the court will try and apply the “clean break” principle, to divide the matrimonial assets between the parties once and for all which allows the parties to move on with their lives.
Even if you have come to an informal agreement with your spouse outside of court, we strongly recommend you ask a solicitor to check the agreement. You could be putting yourself in a vulnerable position and remember that your circumstances could change in the future.