Premarital assets are a category of what are known as “non-matrimonial” assets. These are assets which are derived from outside of the marriage, for example because they were inherited by, or gifted to, one spouse or, in this instance, because they were not built up during the course of the marriage, but owned prior to its inception. If one party contributes significant premarital wealth to the marriage, this is likely to be taken into account when considering the fairest way to divide the assets.
The other category relates to “matrimonial” assets, which have been built up during the course of the parties’ marriage, and to which the court applies the sharing principle in the first instance, such that the starting point is that they should be shared equally.
Since premarital assets are not immediately subject to equal sharing, it is often the case that the party bringing them into the marriage can retain them. If, however, those premarital assets are required to meet the other spouse’s “needs”, for example their need to be re-housed, then the court is entitled to “invade” them, and they may well fall to be divided in the financial settlement. The court will usually take into consideration the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage when considering a spouse’s future needs.
The importance of the source of premarital assets can diminish over time. There may be, for example, intermingling of premarital and marital assets, which results in the premarital assets thereby becoming “matrimonialised”. How the assets have been held and made use of by the parties is therefore extremely important, and relevant for the court to consider when exercising its discretion upon division.
The way in which the courts view premarital assets is fact specific, and depends upon all of the circumstances of the case. It is therefore extremely important that your case is framed in the best possible way from the outset.
Working exclusively with high and ultra-high net worth clients means that premarital wealth is often a significant factor for Vardags’ clients. We know that deploying a well thought out argument at the very outset of a case in those circumstances is key, and have extensive experience of the way in which to do so to achieve the best outcome for clients.
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.