The most effective way to resolve the financial issues that can stem from a separation, divorce or civil partnership will differ from case to case, and parties may find that it is often more complex than they had initially thought. For this reason, it is imperative that a party to a financial dispute seeks legal advice as early as possible to avoid the dissipation of any matrimonial assets.
Our family team will encourage, wherever possible, the resolution of these issues through constructive negotiation, possibly using mediation and or an alternative dispute resolution route. However, sometimes it may be necessary to seek resolution through the courts.
When granting a decree of divorce, nullity, judicial separation or a dissolution of a civil partnership, the court may make various orders for a spouse or civil partner that may include, for example:
- periodical payments (monthly maintenance payments)
- secured provision (maintenance that is charged against an asset)
- lump sum (a capital cash payment)
- transfer of property or property adjustment order (where legal ownership of an asset is taken away from one spouse or partner and transferred to the other)
- pension attachment and pension sharing
When making such orders, the court must consider all the circumstances of the case and the factors listed in Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
Fairness and Equality
The starting point in any proceedings is that of an equality. However, the division of capital and income may be complex when the individual circumstances of a family come to be considered. Our team of experienced solicitors and lawyers can advise you on issues such as:
- whether all the capital assets should be divided equally, or should some assets owned by one party prior to the date of the marriage be excluded? This may include inheritance and pensions.
- what happens if a 50% share of the capital assets is inadequate to provide the re-housing of one of the spouses and who will the children of the family be living with during their minority?
- how should income be divided between the parties and should the party with a lower income have the support of a maintenance order?
- how can the children of the family be supported financially until they leave full-time education or attain the age of 18 years?
It is essential that all parties to the proceedings provide full and frank disclosure to their spouse and the court if proceedings are issued. There may be circumstances where some parties do not provide such full disclosure and attempt to hide assets behind family and offshore accounts. The court is well rehearsed in cases such as these and has wide powers to unravel those assets in which one spouse attempts to defeat the other spouse's claims against such assets.
A decision whether to seek hidden assets can only be made after a careful analysis of the case to which it must then be weighed against the likely legal costs to be incurred in running an application under Section 37 of the Matrimonial Causes Act and the possible benefits to be achieved with an outcome. Our family team has a wealth of experience to advise you on the advantages and disadvantages of using this route.
If you would like to know more information please do not hesitate to contact our family team on +44 (0)20 7164 6234 to arrange an initial consultation and/or email our enquiries line on firstname.lastname@example.org.