Divorce and financial awards - is what's mine yours?


By Joanna Yates

Family law rumours

The process of sorting out the finances in a divorce is called ‘ancillary relief’. There seem to be many rumours floating round about what financial awards each individual is entitled to when a couple get divorced. I usually speak to at least one person a day whose soon to be ex-wife/husband/civil partner has threatened to take everything they’ve got and “take them to the cleaners”.

The family law courts in England have a particular approach for deciding who gets what financially and this is always the starting point a specialist family solicitor will take to advise you.

Will they get half of everything?

The family court has discretion to make financial awards. The starting point is that all your assets and income are pooled together in a hypothetical pot and the courts will aim to divide this fairly and equally under what is known as ‘the equal sharing principle’.

With the help of your family solicitor, you will then put forward to the court good reasons why these should not be divided equally (should this be your wish). If the court accepts that your reasons are good enough then they will start to move away from the principle that everything should be divided equally.

What is a good reason?

The court will always apply certain criteria to consider what a fair and equal financial award for each spouse will be*.  However, as you can appreciate, the good reasons you have to put forward about your own financial provision will be specific to you and the marriage/ civil partnership you had and your current and future situation.

Therefore it is essential to have a specialist family solicitor who can make arguments to the court on your behalf as to why you should be financially provided for. A good reason for being granted ancillary relief is often where both parties finances and matrimonial home need to be used provide a home to any children and the main carer.

Are only assets and income accumulated during the marriage taken into account?

No. The court will take the income and assets from all sources prior to the marriage, during the marriage and potentially after the marriage into account when making any financial award. For example, this includes earnings and potential future earnings, rent from any property, inheritance, and pensions.

Contact law works regularly with successful and specialist family solicitors covering divorce - contact us on 0800 1777 162 or fill in a web-form to talk with one of our advisors.

* The criteria considered by the court is contained in section 25(2) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

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