When a relationship breaks down and divorce becomes the only option it can be hard for parties to sit down and fully consider joint finances and assets, especially if you have children.
We can help you protect your assets and ensure that your divorce is as uncomplicated and fair as possible.
What am I Entitled to in a Divorce Settlement in the UK?
What you are entitled to in your divorce settlement is dependent on your individual circumstances.
Normally it is matrimonial assets that are divided.
Matrimonial assets are assets that were acquired by either party while married or with income earned while they were married. Generally, the two largest matrimonial assets tend to be the family home and either party’s pension.
Also included can be:
- Other real estate properties.
- Savings accounts and banked cash.
- Stocks and investments.
Anything that you or your partner owned before marriage (or after if it were purchased using non-matrimonial funds) is considered non-matrimonial.
Typically, non-matrimonial assets will be excluded in a divorce settlement. This is unless the matrimonial assets do not add up to a sufficient provision for either party or the non-matrimonial assets were brought into and used during the marriage.
If you are wondering what is considered personal property in a divorce in the UK, this is legally referred to as chattels and that include any personal possessions that are not classed as matrimonial assets, financial assets, or real estate.
While you may feel a sentimental attachment to some form of chattel, if the property was bought during the marriage or with matrimonial funds then it is up for debate as to who will be granted possession of the item.
How are Assets Split in a Divorce in the UK?
In the UK, divorce settlements typically aim to achieve a 50/50 split for both parties.
However, this split is often not met due to other circumstances that arise, meaning that one party may receive a larger portion of the matrimonial assets than the other.
Courts must consider the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004 when dividing assets in a divorce in the UK.
This includes the income and financial needs of each party as well as the family’s standard of living before the marriage began to collapse.
In terms of income, if either party has a high earning potential for the foreseeable future, then this will be accounted for. Property and other financial assets are also included.
The income is then considered against the financial responsibilities that each party has or will have in the future, and the contributions that have already been made to the welfare of the marriage or contributions that will need to be continued.
Finally, if the conduct of either party during the marriage was very severe so that it would be unfair to disregard it then this will also be taken into account. e.g. domestic abuse with long term lasting effects.
The court will not take adultery into account, especially now with non fault divorce.
Each party to the marriage should try to be as self-reliant as possible with their income. When this is not possible due to healthcare, childcare, or other financial responsibilities that may limit their earning capacity, the court can look at enhanced % splits (e.g 40/60 or 30/70) or ongoing maintenance payments.
Do I Need to Go to Court to Decide on a Financial Settlement?
No, if you and your former spouse can agree on a financial settlement that suits both of you. However, it is advised that you discuss with a lawyer about what settlement plan is being proposed to make sure it is fair.
If you choose not go to court for a financial order then your former spouse could potentially file a financial claim at any point in the future provided that you have not remarried.
Also, be aware that such a settlement will not be legally binding and your former spouse could change the terms of their agreement at any point.
To prevent this, you should have the court approve your agreement by way of a consent order.
A consent order legally binds your financial settlement and can be drafted by your solicitor on your behalf. You and your partner will have to sign the document and send it into the court along with the court fee (currently £50).
If you are not dividing assets between you and you both want to walk away from the marriage that is a clean break and so a clean break order will suffice. This will provide you with protection from your former spouse seeking a financial settlement years after you divorce, e.g. if in 5 years time you win the lottery.
Fair Divorce Settlement Examples UK
We list a couple of examples of simple divorce settlements below to highlight what a ‘fair’ divorce looks like.
Example one: John and Jenny.
They have been married for 10 years. They have no children, and have had similar incomes with a comparable potential for future earning potential.
A fair divorce settlement in this instance would be a 50/50 split of all matrimonial assets with no spousal maintenance or investigation into non-matrimonial assets.
Example two: Simon and Amy.
They have been married for 18 years. They have two children, and Amy stopped working to look after them. Simon supports the family with his income.
A fair divorce settlement may be reached in this case by allowing Amy to keep the family home where she will raise the children. Simon will have to pay child maintenance and spousal maintenance for a set period of time.
Example three: Joel and Tina.
They were only married for a couple of years and did not live together before their marriage. They have no children.
The fairest divorce settlement in this instance may be for each party to walk away with what they brought into the marriage, with no entitlement to the other’s possessions, pensions, or other assets.
Example four: Fred and Betty.
They have been married for 12 years. They have no children, and Betty earns more than Fred with a likelihood that her income will keep on increasing over the next few years.
A fair divorce settlement in this case may mean that Fred receives a larger share of the matrimonial assets, with Betty not being required to pay spousal maintenance.
Contact us for legal advice from on divorce.