Property and Divorce
It is not uncommon for a couple’s property and assets to be fought over during a divorce. Although mediation is the best solution for solving property disputes and splitting your assets following a divorce without going to court, this is often not how things pan out. Here we provide you with a basic overview of the laws dictating the splitting of assets during a divorce, including things such as houses and other property. First, however, we must understand the difference between matrimonial property and non-matrimonial property.
What’s the difference between matrimonial property and non-matrimonial property?
Splitting your assets in a divorce often means ascertaining what does and does not count as matrimonial property. The law is not very clear on what constitutes matrimonial property, making it difficult to know where you stand with your assets in a divorce. If the marriage has lasted for a long time, then any property acquired before the marriage is likely to be considered as matrimonial property. If the marriage has been short, however, it is likely that property acquired before the marriage will be considered non-matrimonial property. The law here aims to protect spouses who stand to lose a lot of assets if their marriage ends rather quickly.
How does the splitting of assets and matrimonial property work?
Many couples agree between themselves how the splitting of their assets and matrimonial property will work in a divorce. When this happens, the court approves the agreement, which is called a “consent order”. If financial disputes occur, however, and the parties cannot reach a mutual agreement, then legal guidance must be sought by the spouses, and the case will go to court. If the matter goes to court, the court will often consider splitting the assets and property equally, unless they find a good reason for splitting the assets and property in a different way.
Splitting assets unequally in a divorce
If there is a good reason for not splitting your assets equally in a divorce, the court may refer to section 25 (2) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. This provides them with factors to consider when determining how to split assets and property during a divorce where an equal split is not seen as suitable. The court will take into account the earning capacity and incomes of the spouses, as well as their income and earning capacity for the foreseeable future. They will also look into each spouse’s financial needs, as well as the standards of living they enjoyed during the marriage. The court will look at the age of each spouse and the duration of the marriage, in addition to any disabilities (mental or physical) either party may have. Contributions made towards the family will also be taken into consideration, such as if one spouse purchased a family home independently. If one of the spouses has displayed unreasonable conduct which is relevant to the divorce proceedings, then the court can also take this into consideration too.
What about splitting assets and property when children are involved?
If a couple has children who are under 18 years of age, a Mesher Order can usually be obtained. A Mesher Order effectively postpones the sale of a family home until certain conditions are met. A Mesher Order is designed to protect the well-being of a couple’s young children during a divorce, postponing the splitting of certain assets (such as the family home) until certain conditions are met. For example, the triggering event could be the couple’s youngest child reaching the age of 18, or it could be the couple’s youngest child finishing full-time education and entering the working world. After the event which postpones the sale has occurred, the property can then be sold and split between the two former spouses in accordance with the legal agreements which were reached when the marriage was initially dissolved. The property may or may not be divided equally at this time, as detailed in the previous sections.
It’s important to look after your assets and property in a divorce, ensuring that you get the fairest deal possible and don’t suffer unnecessary financial losses. If you need help splitting your assets in a divorce, contact Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors today for legal advice, representation, and guidance.