Family Law and Financial Settlements
You may have heard recently about Gary Lineker’s calls for Financial Settlements, following a divorce, to be simplified to a mathematical equation. However, providing for both parties’ financial needs, and those of any minor children following a divorce, is not necessarily that simple. Would a 50:50 split of everything owned always be fair? Would it re-house the children?
The recent case of Morris which recently hit the headlines, perhaps highlights that the answer to this question will be ‘no’ in the majority of cases. The Wife in this case was awarded 90% of the parties’ capital. Her needs were seen as greater, as she had given up her career to be the primary carer to the parties’ children. This put her at a disadvantage when returning to employment after a long break, compared to Mr Morris who was a managing director of a successful company and who also had a bigger pension pot. Added to this the judge considered the ‘extravagant’ spending by both had left them with limited capital which was going to be required in order to re-house Mrs Morris and children of the marriage.
This case shows that equal division of your assets may not be appropriate in your marriage breakdown, everyone’s circumstances are unique. We always recommend an initial consultation with Emmersons Solicitors, Sunderland and Newcastle Family Law Experts who will advise which factors are most relevant in your case.
The law in England and Wales states that the financial obligations between spouses should cease as soon as possible after the end of a marriage. This is often referred to as ‘achieving a Clean Break’ Consent Order. This is often not possible immediately and time is needed to adjust financially.
There is no one answer as to how much each of you should receive. Each case is judged on its own merits. To look to achieve fairness overall, the courts need to carry out a detailed analysis of the finances of each of you to assess your total net worth. They will also look at how and when that worth was acquired. If it is deemed to be “matrimonial” (acquired in the course of the marriage) it should be shared between you; but if it is “non-matrimonial” the party who acquired it could argue for it to be excluded from the settlement. If, however, there is barely enough to meet the both of your reasonable needs the court may share even assets deemed to be non-matrimonial in nature. Reasonable needs, can be determined by considering the usual standard of living enjoyed by you and your spouse during the course of the marriage. However, you must bear in mind that in the vast majority of cases adjustments will have to be made when there are to 2 households to finance instead of 1.
One of you may be required to pay maintenance to your other, less wealthy, partner. The Family Court will need to see the budgets for both you and your spouse and the children, with future income and financial needs set out. The court looks at current and future earning capacity and may set this against the less wealthy spouse’s need for maintenance.
Any Children Of The Family will always be the first consideration and how their housing needs will be met. The length of a marriage is also an important factor that will affect the size of the settlement. It should be noted that the courts will consider pre-marital cohabitation. The more “seamless” your financial arrangements are from just living together to being married the better.
We always recommend a ‘Next Steps’ Divorce Advice Session with one of our Experienced Family Law Solicitors who will advise which factors are most relevant in your particular circumstances. We can guide you, to ensure, as far as possible, any settlement reached meets your needs not just now but in the future.
Such a task is not to be underestimated. Take, for example, the recent case in the media involving Catherine de Renee, 38, an artist who divorced her wealthy barrister husband, Jason Galbraith-Marten, QC, 49, in 2009 in Australia. She was handed only £72,500 of the marital assets and he originally paid her about £45,000 in maintenance (the same amount that it is said he earned from one tribunal case alone). That stopped in 2012, and now she says that she and their eight-year-old daughter are “in a predicament of real need” and being forced to survive on state handouts and the £9,600 per year child maintenance payments she receives from Mr Galbraith-Marten. Whereas her former husband lives in a £1.6 million home and has a large income. Reports indicate that Ms De Renee has battled through both the Australian and UK legal systems in a bid to re-open the divorce settlement. However, Lady Justice Black told her that she must make do with what she has, “The wife was legally advised when she reached the Australian agreements. She could have sought help there if she thought they were not fair and did not provide for her needs”. This highlights the importance of letting us help you “get it right” the first time.
Don’t rely upon a football pundit to give you legal advice.
Contact one of our Expert Family Law Solicitors instead!
Contact us for to arrange a ‘Next Steps’ Divorce Advice Session.
Book your ‘Next Steps’ Divorce Advice Session at our Newcastle office: 0191 284 6989
Book your ‘Next Steps’ Divorce Advice Session at our Sunderland office: 0191 567 6667
Nine Reasons Why You Should Instruct a Solicitor To Handle Your Divorce – (and the pitfalls of a Do-It-Yourself Divorce) Free eGuide.
We are frequently asked about the value of instructing an expert solicitor to handle a divorce. We have put together this useful guide which will answer many of your questions. If you are contemplating a divorce or separation, and wondering whether you need a solicitor to assist you, then our guide will help you to decide.