Finances on Separation

Finances on Separation

Williscroft’s expert Divorce Solicitors in Bradford and Keighley can help deal with the issues surrounding finances and divorce.

Procedures and law which determine how you sort out your money and property when a relationship breaks down depends on whether you are married or a registered civil partner or not. Despite much public debate there is still no specific law to assist couples who live together outside of marriage, regardless of how long the relationship has lasted. If you are living together without any registration of that relationship, the general property and trust laws apply whether you are in a heterosexual or a same sex relationship.

Married Couples

The law that applies to sorting out family finances of married couples is referred to by lawyers and the courts as “ancillary relief”. The law is set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA) which enables courts on divorce or judicial separation to make court orders for maintenance (called periodical payments), lump sums i.e. large, single sums of money, orders to transfer property from one to the other and orders to sell property. The court is also given power to set aside transfers of property that have been made with the intention to try and deprive the other of the right to make a claim over the property. Williscroft can help you make sense of issues regarding Finances and Divorce.

The court now also has the powers to make orders in relation to pension funds. In particular, to attach an order to a pension fund or to share pension funds between spouses.

The court’s powers to make orders for maintenance are now limited by the Child Support Act 1991. Unless maintenance for children can be agreed, the Child Support Agency (now called Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission) is the organisation which will make assessments of maintenance according to a fixed formula. The court’s powers are limited to maintenance for spouses or ex spouses and top-up maintenance for children in certain circumstances.

When considering how to distribute money and property of the marriage, the first decision is to calculate what is included in the pool of assets for division. In general, all assets and liabilities of each party, whether jointly or solely held are included. There may be questions over inherited assets or property acquired after separation if needs allow. After this various criteria are taken into account by the court in considering how the pool of matrimonial assets should be divided. The starting point is a 50/50 division of the assets but the scales can tip in either party’s favour depending on the particular circumstances. In certain cases one party may require additional income by way of maintenance from the other over a period of time. Unfortunately, there are no definitive rules in this area of law and the court does have a very wide discretion as to how financial matters are dealt with. If you require help when it comes to separation and finances then contact Williscroft now!

The court will take into account the contributions you have each made to the marriage both by financial contributions through wages, savings etc and through non-financial contributions such as caring for the home and the children. The court will consider the reasonable needs of each party, and the children for example for housing, and also whether the parties or children have any disabilities. The length of the marriage and standard of living of the family are also relevant. The court does not take into account either party’s behaviour, except in very rare and exceptional cases.

You both have a duty to provide full disclosure of all assets and income etc. This means you both have to be entirely honest about every asset you have, or have had. If either party is not entirely honest about this and does not provide information as required then the court has powers to order disclosure and make orders for that party to pay part of the other person’s legal costs. The court may also assume that the uncooperative party is better off than he/she has admitted.

Only a tiny percentage of cases ever reach a final contested court hearing. We encourage you to resolve financial matters amicably using mediation, joint meetings, or using collaborative law. If this is not possible then the court process is used. Many cases are begun in court because of the obligation to provide full disclosure and because it keeps the pressure on parties to focus on getting things sorted out quickly. However, most people are able to reach negotiated settlements during this process which suit them, even if they sometimes involve compromises. This approach is a sensible one because most people have to pay in advance for their own legal costs or have to repay their legal costs at the end of their case. Whilst it may not cost so much money to commence court proceedings, it does cost a lot of money to bring cases to a final hearing. It is therefore important to consider ways of settling your case at all stages. We will bear this in mind throughout your case and advise you of the most appropriate way to proceed. If you need more information about Finances and Divorce, then get in touch to discuss your case.

Same Sex Couples in Registered Civil Partnerships

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 allows same sex couples to enter into a contract similar to marriage. The Act provides a framework of law like divorce for married couples, to dissolve the registered partnership. As such Finances and Separation issues are resolved in a similar way and on similar principles to that set out above.

Contact Williscroft and Co to speak to one of our Divorce Solicitors in Bradford on 01274 305380 or our Divorce Solicitors in Keighley on 01535 600973 or email us.

Contracted with the Legal Aid Agency. Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Reg.No. 67202.

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