Asset split may not be equal for divorcees
Divorcing couples should not assume that assets will be split equally following a breakdown in the marriage, with the courts having wide powers of discretion over who gets what, a family lawyer has warned.
Although a 50/50 split, or yardstick of equality as the courts refer to it, is a starting point, FBC Manby Bowdler Partner Fay Rothery said there are a number of reasons why the court may decide on a different outcome.
Fay, a specialist in family law, commented following recent high profile divorce cases, which saw ‘exceptional’ decisions made in the Court of Appeal.
In one case, a market trader turned millionaire who called himself ‘Delboy’ lost a £900,000 divorce battle against his ex-wife after he sacked her from his business.
Court of Appeal
Fay said: “Unlike Delboy and Rodney, in this case the husband and wife team turned their market stall into a huge business success story – a frozen food business turning over nearly £2m a year. She took him to court after he claimed a half-share in two properties she owned. But the Court of Appeal rejected her husband’s claim to the properties – which are worth about £900,000.
“In another case a hospital consultant was ordered to hand over 100% of his fortune to his former wife. Although this decision was exceptional, it was made after the Court considered the welfare of the children involved. It ruled that as the husband had moved abroad out of the jurisdiction of the Child Support Agency, this was a fair decision to ensure the children’s welfare.
“Both of these divorces are perhaps extreme examples, but clearly demonstrate that a 50/50 split of marital assets is not always what happens: each case is different and decisions will be based on the particular facts and circumstances of the marriage and the parties involved
“Sometimes a court may decide that if either one of the couple has made a stellar contribution to the financial assets of the marriage, or if there is a business involved, that can also complicate how assets are split. Equally, if pre-marital property or an inheritance is held by one party or the other, then the courts need to consider whether that asset should form part of the matrimonial pot, and therefore whether it should be shared as part of any settlement, or ring-fenced.
“As always, we’d advise people considering divorce to seek expert advice. We’re finding that many clients come to us assuming that the financial settlement will be equal shares,but as the above divorce settlements show, it’s not always the case.”
For advice, contact Fay Rothery on 01902 392420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.