Here at SNS, our specialist family law solicitors come across misunderstandings and expectations in our clients that do not correlate to the reality in our family law system.
Sometimes that is good news for our client; sometimes it is not.
Many people believe erroneously that the assets of a marriage are divided equally upon divorce and/or that you are automatically entitled to 50% of the total value of your combined assets.
The reality is markedly different from this erroneous received wisdom. Matrimonial finance law is extremely complex but in simple terms the starting point is equal division of all the assets of the marriage, unless the family’s circumstances are such that there should be an unequal distribution of assets in order to reach a fair and equitable settlement.
In dealing with the question of what is a fair and reasonable settlement, the Court will take all the circumstances of a marriage into account, including each party’s income, earning capacity, assets, current and future financial needs, obligations and responsibilities, the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage; the duration of the marriage and the age of the parties; any contributions made and the financial conduct of each party during the marriage and prior to any application for financial relief.
Where there are children involved, the Court will always consider their needs first, which means that, by definition, the prime carer of the children often requires a larger share of the marital assets because their accommodation must include space for the children.
The simple answer is that a divorcing couple are entitled to whatever percentage of the assets of the marriage the Court decides is fair and reasonable: the Court has a wide discretion to make whatever Orders it thinks is appropriate under the specific circumstances of every case.
That said, the majority of cases are dealt with by way of Consent Order where the parties have agreed a settlement amicably, without recourse to the Courts – but the Courts will apply the same tests as in a litigated settlement and can (but rarely does) reject a Consent Order settlement if it feels that the settlement is unfair.
In all cases, both spouses are required to provide full and frank financial disclosure to the other before a settlement can be considered, and no settlement can nor will be reached without knowledge of the full extent of the matrimonial assets. This makes financial disclosure an essential requirement in every case and a financial remedy cannot be concluded without this key information.
If you wish to speak with one of our specialist solicitors in confidence please contact us on 01622 23 88 50, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to speak with Tanya or Richard, our family law solicitors, you can email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch this space next week for Myth Number Three.