Divorce is always going to be a difficult thing to deal with, and there is no definitive guidebook that everyone can turn to when figuring it out. Each divorce, like each marriage, is unique. A couple will spend so much time building a life together, it is only natural that they will also accumulate wealth, property and goods together.
But how is all this divided when the couple breaks up?
Here are some of the main factors that will be taken into account by us as your solicitors, and by the Court:
- When the asset was purchased or accumulated.
- Whether the asset considered has been treated by the couple as part of their matrimonial assets.
- Income and earning capacity, property and other financial resources that each spouse has or is likely to have in the near future.
- The financial needs and responsibilities which each spouse has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.
- The ages of each spouse.
- The duration of the marriage.
- Any physical or mental disability of either spouse.
- Roles in the marriage or civil partnership, for example if one person was the main earner while the other acted as primary care giver.
Before we go into further legal detail on this topic, there are some general behavioural tips to bear in mind which will help the splitting of assets go as smoothly as possible.
Be civil and honest with each other
While this is easier said than done, the entire process will be over much quicker if you are able to reach agreements together in advance. It is important to know what is rightly yours as an individual and what needs to be split. This will all be much easier to deal with if both parties are transparent with one another.
Prioritise the needs of your children
If you have children, especially if they are young, the court will take into account the fact that they need somewhere suitable to live with each parent. As parents, it’s important to keep the needs of your children uppermost in your minds at all times during a divorce or dissolution.
When it comes to children, disrupting them as little as possible must be a top priority.
So, how can property be divided?
When you divorce or dissolve your civil partnership, there are quite a few options you have about what you do with the family home.
Firstly, you can decide to simply sell the home and both of you move out. The money that both get from this could be put towards buying yourselves a new home each, if you can afford to do this. This is usually the easiest option.
Another simple option, if it can be agreed upon, is one person buying the other out of the property. This can be a good route if one person really wants to stay in the same location, while the other wants to seek pastures new.
Thirdly, it is possible transfer part of the value of the property from one partner to the other as part of the financial settlement. The partner who gave up a share of their ownership rights would keep a stake or ‘interest’ in the home, receiving a percentage of its value when the property is sold.
Making a claim for a share of the home’s value
If the home is only in one of the partners’ names, it is possible for the other to make a claim for a share of its value. For example, you might be able to establish a ‘beneficial interest’ if you have paid towards the mortgage, or towards improvements or an extension of some kind.
It is also possible to have ‘beneficial interest’ if your ex-partner bought the home in his or her name but you had an understanding or agreement that you would have a share in its value when it was sold.
Splitting a business
Divorce is likely to have an impact upon any business if either spouse owns one. Interestingly, a business is considered to be as much of an asset as the matrimonial home. When coming to a decision, the Court will consider the value of the business together with all the other family assets, and split them all as they see fit.
If you or your partner own a business outright or are a significant shareholder, a valuation of that business will be required. This valuation will be included as part of a financial settlement in the divorce.
The valuation can be a complex process as it depends upon:
- Income from the business
- Business assets such as property, stock, machinery, vehicles etc.
- The value of any pensions
- Whether or not it is possible to extract capital sums from the business
- Whether or not it is possible to borrow money against the business or its assets
- The ownership structure of the company
How about personal possessions?
We have all seen it before in films and television shows where a divorcing couple argue over who gets to keep the record collection, or the big sofa. It does not always have to go this way.
When thinking about furniture and cars, start by working out where you both will live after you separate as this can help ease the decision one way or the other.
For example, are you both going to need to furnish new properties? If so, divide up the furniture as fairly as possible so that the items you both have are of equal monetary worth.
Have questions? We are here to help!
Here at Lisa’s Law, we understand how difficult a divorce can be, and we will do everything in our power to help you through it. We are a shoulder to lean on as well as legal professionals.
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