When a marriage breaks down people need to find a way to divide up their assets and find a fair financial settlement which meets the needs of themselves and their children.
The children’s best interests are the first consideration. The other main concepts to consider when dividing assets are “sharing” and “needs”.
“Sharing” means that assets acquired as a result of either or both parties’ efforts during the marriage are normally divided equally. It does not matter who was the higher earner and there is no discrimination against a party whose main role might have been homemaking and bringing up children. Other considerations can however apply to assets brought into the relationship from outside the marriage or which have been gifted or inherited by either party. Sometimes they can be regarded as “non- marital” assets which need not be shared with the other party.
If equal sharing of the assets acquired during the “marital partnership”( which includes any pre marital cohabitation) does not meet the needs of the financially weaker party then there is likely to be a “departure from equality” to meet those needs. Where the claim is needs- based then non marital property as well as marital property can be used to meet those needs.
Different principles apply in respect of maintenance. Child support is payable based on Child Maintenance Assessment regulations which can be subject to “top up” in the event of a maximum assessment. Orders can also be made to cover school fees. Spousal maintenance can be awarded but only to meet the needs of the financially weaker spouse. There is no right to share in the future income of the higher earner, except to meet on-going financial needs.
At Craig Solicitors we have very substantial expertise in this work and are often able to offer you an overview of likely outcomes at an early stage.
Entirely different rules apply to unmarried couples. We have very substantial expertise in dealing with such claims which in appropriate cases can be made under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustee Act 1996 and for financial provision within Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989