There is no set formula when it comes to splitting assets in divorce but the law provides general guidelines and gives the Courts a wide range of discretion. The law itself (Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973) is nearly 50 years old now but the factors set out in it are still used today. Here’s a summary:
- The welfare of any children is always the first consideration.
- Income, earning capacity and other financial resources which are available now or may be available in the future.
- The expenditure that each has now and is expected to have in the future including liability for debts.
- The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage (although it may not be possible to divide the money between two households and retain the same standard of living).
- Health problems or disability which may impact on earning capacity or care costs.
- The contribution each has made to the welfare of the family, both financially and in looking after the home and children.
- Conduct, although behaviour has to significantly impact on the financial position of the family before it is taken into account.
- The value of any benefit, such as pensions, which is being lost as a result of the divorce.
How to prepare for financial negotiations
You will save a lot of time and money if you can do some preparation:
- Organise all of your financial documents so that they are easily identified and in date order.
- Apply for statements showing the current value of any pension funds.
- Think about where you see yourself living in the future. If you need to move – how much would it cost to buy a different property and what would the purchase costs, stamp duty and moving costs be? How much can you borrow on a mortgage on your own?
- Prepare a list of your monthly expenditure – what are you actually spending now? Include everything. Also prepare a similar budget for the future and do a separate schedule for everything you need to pay out for your children.
- If you are on a low income use a website like Turn 2 Us to calculate whether you will qualify for financial help from the state.
- Use the Child Maintenance Service’s online calculator to check what your liability or entitlement for child maintenance may be.
- If you are not currently working or working part time think about whether it is practical to get a job or increase your hours. If so, what would be able to earn? Would there be child care costs if you were working?
- Take advice from a specialist family lawyer at an early stage. We can give you an overview of what you can expect, the options available to you to help you achieve a settlement and what to do as the next steps.
Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.
This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.