Divorce and Finances

When a relationship breaks down, there are usually assets that need dividing. As experienced specialists in this area, we are able to deal with financial disputes ranging from straight forward cases (for example, whereby the main asset is the former matrimonial home) to higher value more complex matters involving companies, trusts and investments held in this jurisdiction and abroad.

We will always attempt to keep costs regarding financial disputes to a minimum obtaining, where possible, a speedy conclusion and settlement through negotiations. When that is not possible, for example, if one party is making unrealistic demands or where one party is attempting to hide assets, we will ensure you receive high quality representation in Court proceedings.

We have a wealth of experience in dealing with complex cases where, for example, one party is attempting to hide or dissipate assets and detailed investigations are required to trace those assets. We also have extensive experience in dealing with cases where injunctions are needed to freeze assets where one party is seeking to dissipate them.

Upon divorce or judicial separation, you or your spouse have the right to make financial claims against each other. These are as follows:

  • Periodical payments – where one party is ordered to pay (spousal) maintenance to the other on a monthly basis;
  • Secured periodical payments – where periodical payments are secured upon a certain asset so that if the party paying maintenance defaults, the asset would be at risk;
  • Lump sums – where one party pays to their spouse a lump sum of money;
  • Property adjustment orders – where ownership of an asset is transferred from one spouse to another or where sale of a property is ordered;
  • Maintenance pending suit – where one party pays to their spouse a sum of money on a regular basis until financial matters regarding the divorce have been finalised;
  • Clean break – prevents a spouse from making further financial claims upon the other;
  • Child maintenance – where the courts order one party to pay the other a sum of money for the benefit of the children of the relationship, see also divorce with children involved;
  • Pensions – these are usually considered to be part of the marital assets and the courts can make a number of orders in this regard.

Unfortunately, there is no set formula to decide how financial matters should be decided. The courts will consider what is fair and take into account a number of facts laid down by legislation. One of the main issues will be the welfare of the children and other factors the courts will take into account are as follows:

  • The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each spouse has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future including, in the case of earning capacity, any increase in that capacity which it would be, in the opinion of the courts, reasonable to expect a person to take steps to acquire.
  • The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each spouse has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage.
  • The ages of each spouse and the duration of the marriage.
  • Any physical or mental disability of each spouse.
  • The contributions which each spouse has made or is likely to make in the foreseeable future to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family.
  • The conduct of each spouse, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the courts be inequitable to disregard.
  • The value to each spouse of any benefit which one spouse because of the divorce will lose the chance of acquiring (most usually pension provision).

You may be familiar with the landmark case White v White in 2000. If spouses now have a long marriage, the courts will consider an equal division of the assets acquired during the marriage. Each case is individual, however, and has its own set of circumstances and courts are likely to take varying approaches to each case.

If a marriage has a long duration, for example, factors that may be considered can include business assets, children, contributions, conduct and whether one party has given up a lucrative career to raise the children. If a marriage is of short duration, it is unlikely that an equal division of the assets would be appropriate.

Both parties have an absolute duty to each other and to the courts to fully disclose their financial positions.

Dealing with finances will obviously have an impact upon a client’s future financial security. It is therefore essential that you obtain expert legal advice in this area. If you wish to speak to one of our specialist solicitors confidentially, please telephone us on 01992 892214 to make an appointment.

Some useful links are set out below:

Townsend Family Law Solicitors in Essex, serving Essex and Hertfordshire including Epping, Harlow, Waltham Abbey, Hertford, Enfield, Loughton, Woodford and surrounding areas.