When dividing assets within the context of a divorce, the starting point is the principle of equal sharing of the value of the matrimonial assets.
Broadly, matrimonial assets are those built up by the parties during the marriage period (usually from the date of cohabitation – insofar as that cohabitation led seamlessly to marriage – until the date of separation). Matrimonial assets are distinct from ‘non-matrimonial’ and/or ‘pre-marital’ assets, which are assets either brought into the marriage by a spouse, having been owned prior to the relationship, or acquired unilaterally (such as by way of gift, or inheritance).
However, the court will depart from the principle of equal sharing of matrimonial assets insofar as it is required to meet a party’s needs following the breakdown of the marriage. The ‘needs’ of a party covers both capital needs (such as the need for a property to live in) and income needs (funds required to meet day-to-day expenditure). Whilst ‘needs’ is not defined, case law has interpreted it widely, and the court will usually take into account the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage when considering what is reasonable in terms of future capital and income requirements.
The parties’ respective contributions to the marriage can also be taken into account when considering the fairest way to divide matrimonial assets.
In most cases, it will be necessary to exchange financial disclosure prior to any settlement discussions, to ensure both parties have a comprehensive view of their financial position. The disclosure process can be completed voluntarily, or – if financial proceedings are issued by either party – will be ordered by the court ahead of the first hearing.
Once financial disclosure has taken place and been reviewed, it is common for the parties to have queries of the other’s disclosure, which can be raised by way of a questionnaire. In terms of finding any assets which your spouse may have failed to disclose, this is a key stage in the proceedings, and it is imperative that the correct questions are asked.
Vardags work exclusively with high and ultra-high net worth clients, and are adept at ensuring that the disclosure process is tailored to each individual client and executed to the highest level. We have a unique, in-house financial forensics team available to advise on all aspects of the disclosure process, particularly within cases involving a business or businesses and/or assets held offshore or within structures, who work with our highly effective legal team with a wealth of experience in cases involving a variety of jurisdictions.
If you’re considering or going through a divorce and want to know more about the division of assets, click below for a free initial consultation with one of our expert divorce solicitors.
For more details on how specific assets such as properties, businesses, pensions and pre-marital assets are divided, please see our dedicated guides below:
The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.