UK Divorce Is It a 50 50 Split?


Are Assets Split 50-50 in a Divorce?

Many clients seeking our divorce and family law services ask us if assets are split 50-50 in divorce. The answer is that it depends on the individual circumstances of each case.

Experienced Family Lawyers in London state that an exact 50/50 split during a divorce is a myth. This is because, UK Courts will take into account many factors when deciding how to split the assets, including the length of the marriage, each party’s income and financial contributions.

How are Assets Divided in a Divorce in the UK?

In some cases, where one partner has provided more financial support than the other throughout a relationship, this can affect how any shared assets are divided. The law sets out a framework for any distribution of assets, and the Court will consider many factors when coming to a decision on how assets should be; however, it is and has always been a difficult task to predict with accuracy the outcome of a dispute relating to matrimonial finance, as not only is each case very much decided upon its own facts, but judges have broad Discretion when considering the various factors which they need to take into account under section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973

In summary, the section deals with the needs and resources of the parties, their financial and non-financial contributions during the duration of the marriage, their earning capacity, the welfare of any children of the family, the existence of any premarital property, pensions and in extreme cases the conduct of the parties during the duration of the marriage. The idea is to place the parties in the same position as they would have been if the marriage (or civil partnership) had not broken down.

Each Case Depends on its Own Facts.

In a divorce proceeding, there are no cases that are the same, and much depends on the facts of each case. So although the attempt to reach financial equality when a relationship breaks down is a fair starting point, when looking at all the circumstances of the case, this default position may well change. The Court is not bound to award a 50/50 split of the assets and will take into account the individual circumstances of each case before making a decision. The Court considers many factors, including; length of the marriage, income, financial contributions and any other relevant information.

The Court has Discretion

In the end, it is for the Court to decide what should happen in each case, and its decision will be based on all the facts and circumstances. The Court has Discretion as to how assets are divided and may take into account any of the matters set out in section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

The Court’s decision is based on what it believes to be fair and reasonable in all the circumstances of each case. The parties should bear this in mind when entering negotiations and attempting to reach a settlement without the need for court action. This can save time, money, stress and uncertainty.

What is Taken into Account in the Division of Assets?

In order to consider the extent of the party’s entitlements, all assets, whether acquired during the marriage or civil partnership, are listed, together with the values of pensions and any inherited property, together with the liabilities of each party, such as loan repayments, other debts and mortgages, and once the needs of the parties and their children are fully satisfied from those assets, attention will be given as to how any surplus assets are to be treated. 

If, for example, one of the parties to the marriage has single-handedly made an enormous fortune boosting the family resources and finances due solely to their knowledge, skills or expertise, the Court may well conclude that the other party, for example, the wife who made indirect contributions to the family assets by looking after the home and children, should receive less than half of the couples total assets, because of the husband’s enormous contribution to the families finances (or vice versa), as not to do so may not be fair in all the circumstances.

Again if a party to the marriage or civil partnership has inherited property prior to marriage, which has never been mixed in any way with the assets acquired by the parties during the course of the marriage, and if the needs of the parties have been met by a redistribution of the matrimonial assets, then the other party may be able to retain more than 50 per cent by keeping the inherited property for example.

In the same way, if, for example, the husband has a business with no capital value, say rented premises, which generates income, say a Fish and Chips take away, from which he derives his only income, and the needs of the wife have been met, and there is no clean break agreement, it is unlikely he will be ordered to sell the goodwill in the business and split it equally with his wife. After all, to do so would take away the husband’s sole income-producing asset.

UK Immigration and Divorce

In situations where one party to the marriage has foreign nationality, a divorce in the UK may be linked to re-organising someone’s immigration status. 

It is, therefore, essential for anyone going through a divorce involving someone of non-UK nationality to ensure that they take advice from an experienced immigration solicitor, like a member of the in-house immigration team here at Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors. This can help to ensure that all the relevant immigration and residence rules are taken into account, which can be especially important if the foreign spouse risks losing their immigration status due to a divorce.

In addition to this, there may also be other complications that need to be considered, like visas and residency paperwork. If one or both parties have children with non-UK citizenship, then it is important to consider the effect of the divorce on their status in the UK. It is, therefore, important for anyone going through a divorce involving someone of foreign nationality to seek specialist legal advice before starting proceedings.

Conclusion – is UK divorce a 50-50 split?

Whilst achieving equality may be the default position, it may not end that way, as circumstances may prove equality to be too little or too much depending on the circumstances of each case. It is always advisable to seek adequate legal advice before pursuing a divorce hearing. Such legal disputes are delicate in nature and can affect one’s livelihood indefinitely if not handled correctly.

Our Divorce Services

Our legal team in London consists of expert divorce lawyers that have represented clients through difficult and complicated cases. For more information about what UK divorce services we offer, follow the link below.

Other Family Law Services

In addition to divorce representation, our family lawyers can help you with many more aspects of UK Family Law, such as those listed below. We have many years of experience and can offer mediation, counselling, and many other services to help us meet your specific circumstances.

We look forward to hearing from you and helping with your legal needs.

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