Dividing Matrimonial Assets in the event of a Divorce:
The Court considers a number of factors when deciding the Orders that need to be made in respect of finances.The Court has regard to all the circumstances of the case, placing priority on the welfare of any children of the family under the age of 18. The Court takes into account numerous factors when dividing a couple’s assets and liabilities. For example, we will look at the length of the relationship and each party’s contributions towards the family, including caring for the children and family home as well as earning an income and investing in pensions etc.The most important obligation is for both parties to give full and honest disclosure of all their assets and liabilities.This will include the value of any property, capital investments and pensions, income and outgoings, and a realistic estimate of future financial needs. At Prince Evans we will help you to prepare this disclosure; we will guide you through the particular factors that apply most importantly in your case and try to achieve the best possible outcome for you.
The aim of the Court is to achieve fairness.
The Court has to consider whether it is appropriate to make an equal division of assets built up during the marriage. This may not be suitable where the marriage was very short, or where the assets are insufficient to satisfy capital needs, in particular re-housing. But usually the decisive factor is the reasonable needs [especially housing needs] of you and your spouse. This often overrides the possibility of an equal division of assets.
In brief, a Court can make any or all of the following orders [depending upon the circumstances]: –
1. Maintenance i.e. income payments.
2. Adjustment of property ownership [please see below].
3. Lump sum [i.e. capital payments].
4. Pension orders.
Understandably most people’s main concern is their property which is jointly owned with their spouse. It is possible to resolve the question of the home in one of the following ways: –
(a) Immediate sale and division of proceeds.
(b) Transfer of the property into the sole name of one party with or without a charge in favour of the other party. Alternatively, if money is available, a lump sum order can be made reflecting the interest transferred.
(c) Postponing the sale of the property until a future date but determining your respective shares in the property now. Those percentage shares will be binding when the property is eventually sold.
If the parties reach agreement, the Court must approve the agreement/consent order within Divorce proceedings for it to become legally binding. In the absence of an agreement being approved by the Court or an order of the court, the parties’ financial claims against one another will remain alive and open even after the divorce has been finalised.
If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement then there is no alternative but to issue an application with the Court and the court will then decide, at a final hearing, how the matrimonial assets should be divided between you and your spouse. The Court considers the factors I have discussed and may make any of the orders outlined depending on the circumstances of your case.