What’s mine is yours: does getting divorced automatically mean splitting the finances 50/50?
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Getting a divorce inevitably involves making some important decisions, but what does it mean for your bank account?
Katharine Scoot, head of the family law team at HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors in Hitchin, tells us more about getting divorced, fairly dividing up the family’s assets and why it may not always automatically end with a 50/50 split.
Q: What financial assets are considered in a divorce?
A: A detailed breakdown of all financial assets is the starting point of any negotiation, including, but not limited to, property, total earnings, savings, pensions, and investments owned by either spouse. These will also be taken into consideration when seeking a divorce settlement.
Q: How do I divide our matrimonial assets?
A: Before a fair settlement can be reached, we will work with you to establish your needs and those of any children of the marriage. We will also take into consideration the length of the marriage, the age of both parties, earning capacities, contributions of both parties to the marriage, state of health, and any other relevant factors.
Q: What will happen to my home if I get divorced?
A: This is always one of the first questions clients ask me. There are several options available. You will need to consider whether the property needs to be sold or whether it will be kept on as a home for one spouse and any children.
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You could buy your spouse out of their share of the property or put it up for sale and split the profit. It's therefore important to find out how much your home is worth. A good starting point is to get a free property valuation from three estate agents and take the average price.
We can discuss what your options are and help you find the best outcome for your family.
Q: Will our assets be split 50/50 when getting a divorce?
A: Not always. An even split is the starting point for most divorce negotiations. This precedent was set in 2000, following the White v White divorce case where it was decided the concept of equal sharing should be the accepted starting point for financial settlements. It meant that the main ‘breadwinner’ could not keep the majority of the assets over the other party. It recognised the important role a homemaker contributed to the marriage.
This generally means that if you’ve been married a long time, the starting point for dividing your assets is 50/50. Factors that lead to a departure from this are sometimes the length of the marriage (shorter marriages), a difference in earnings, needs of the parties and children, and contributions, to name a few.
Prenups will also be considered in any financial settlement. Although they are not legally binding, they can be persuasive to a court, which is why it’s worth considering making one before getting married.
Q: How can financial disputes be resolved?
A: There are several ways for couples to reach an agreement about their finances:
- Collaborative Law – a four-way meeting with both spouses and their solicitors to decide how to split the finances.
- Mediation – approaching a third party can help to ease tensions and resolve disagreements. A mediator will hold meetings to discuss your financial situation and seek a fair conclusion. Parties can take advice from their solicitors between sessions.
- Arbitration – if you’re struggling to negotiate, you can agree to submit your dispute to an arbitrator who will make a binding decision on how to divide your assets. Arbitration can often be a faster and more flexible way of reaching a decision than going to court.
- Solicitor to solicitor negotiation – through telephone calls and letter writing.
- Attend court – a judge will assist with financial negotiations, and if no agreement can be reached, make an order at a final hearing.
Q: Where can I find legal advice to help me through my divorce?
A family law solicitor will guide you through every step of the process. Look for a family law solicitor with specific experience in matrimonial finances.
The team here at HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors are specialists in family law, members of resolution, and are accredited specialists in several family law disciplines. We also have a collaboratively trained solicitor.
HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors have offices in Hitchin, Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth Garden City.