If my wife starts divorce proceedings, will she get a better financial settlement?
In short, no. In most cases, it is irrelevant who divorces who. It is highly unlikely that it will make any difference to the final financial settlement made.
The only circumstances where making the first move in a divorce action could be important is when there’s a choice to be made as to which legal system you chose to get divorced under. There could be implications on who pays the costs of the actual divorce through to decree absolute.
The division of assets on divorce
Sorting out money is for most couples the most daunting part of separation and divorce. There are no hard and fast rules governing how assets should be divided, although there is a broad starting point of 50:50.
If the divorcing couple are unable to come to an agreement on the fair division of their financial assets, the court will decide how these should be apportioned between them based on factors such as their age, earnings ability, property and money, and role in the relationship (e.g. breadwinner or primary carer). The needs of any children of the marriage are always considered paramount.
If I move out of the family home, will it affect my rights?
The marital home often represents the biggest asset in contention between divorcing couples. Often the solution arrived at is that one spouse buys the other out and keeps the house, or the property could be sold and the proceeds divided. But if there are children, one parent will often want to remain there with them, at least until they reach a certain age.
Many spouses fear that if they move out of the marital home, they will lose their rights relating to it. If you’re married or in a civil partnership, you will not lose your rights, even if the house isn’t in your name. The court can adjust rights in property, and you can protect your interest in it by registering a caution with the Land Registry. This will effectively prevent your spouse from selling it or using it as collateral for a loan until such times as the court has adjudicated in the matter.
With pension funds often representing sizeable assets, they can be another area that is fought over in reaching a financial settlement Many people think that a pension solely belongs to the party who is named on the policy, but that’s not the case. A pension must be considered in the division of a couple’s assets on divorce. Pension assets can be apportioned in various ways, by:
- offsetting the value of one spouse’s fund by transferring a lump sum, or other assets to the other spouse
- splitting the pension fund into two separate pensions
- arranging that when a pension comes to be paid, a portion goes to the other spouse.
Property brought into the marriage
If either of you bring assets into the marriage, perhaps because you have inherited them or been given them, either at the beginning or during the marriage – these could be considered as ‘non-matrimonial assets’. In this case, they are not treated the same as assets built up during the marriage. But even in this case, an inheritance or gifted asset may still be used if it is needed, for example to buy a house.