How do you Split Assets in a Divorce in the UK?

How do you Split Assets in a Divorce in the UK

How do you Split Assets in a Divorce in the UK?

Family home, pensions, inheritances, business assets, there’s a lot to think about. And is it matrimonial or non matrimonial property?

The starting place is a fifty/fifty split but there are considerations under s.25 Matrimonial Causes Act –

  • the welfare of any children
  • income, earning capacity, property
  • financial needs
  • standard of living
  • ages and length of marriage
  • disabilities
  • contributions
  • conduct if inequitable to disregard it

How do we reach an agreement about assets?

If you can reach an agreement, well done, but run it past an experienced family lawyer to make sure it’s fair. If you can’t agree try –

Whichever method you will need to give full and frank disclosure of your finances. See my blog Financial Disclosure on Divorce, 10 things you need to know. And you need a Court order to protect you. See my blog How do I get a Consent Order? A Simple Guide

What about my home?

The options are –

  • one of you buys the other out, or
  • you sell and divide the proceeds, or
  • one of you keeps the house and the other has an interest in it which they realise in the future. This is called a charge.

What is a charge on the home?

This works well if there are children. You can’t afford to buy each other out and a sale won’t realise enough to house you both. Perhaps there’s only a tiny equity. But how is this fair for the parent who won’t live there and won’t be receiving any cash? The answer is an interest in the property, a charge representing a certain percentage of its value. This means in the future you will get capital from the property.

When do I get the money from the charge?

There are various ways it can be worded. For example, when the children turn eighteen years of age or when the parent living there remarries or cohabits for a certain period.

What about pensions?

Pensions can be significant especially if one of you works in the public sector. In the heat of the moment one of you might say, Keep the pension, I want the house! But this isn’t always wise. It might be better to sell the house, split the proceeds and downsize so you can have a pension sharing order to provide you with income in retirement. See my blog Pensions on Divorce, what can you expect.

How will the assets be split in my case?

It really is impossible to generalise but I can give you a couple of examples.

Sue and John – older couple, no mortgage, no kids

So you’re both in good health and you have a range of assets – nice house, couple of cars, pensions, savings. You are likely to come away with half each, a fifty/fifty split. How this is achieved is up to you. One of you buys the other’s interest in the house. Or you sell it and split the proceeds. You could say, I’ll have the yacht, you have the timeshare. Tot it up so you make sure you’re getting equal value. Don’t forget to get a Consent Order – see my blog How do I get a Consent Order? A Simple Guide

Emma and Mike – two kids, big mortgage, little equity

This is more tricky. The top priority is a home for the children and the only option is the family house. A transfer of the house to Emma with a charge to Mike might be the answer.

Olivia and David – short marriage, no kids

The rules are different for short marriages, see my blog Short marriages, 10 things you need to know.

What about my inheritance?

It depends on –

  • when you received it
  • whether you mixed it with the matrimonial assets or kept it separate
  • whether there are enough non-inheritance assets to provide a fair settlement

See my blog How to protect inheritance on divorce.

I have a business, what will happen to that?

See my blog How to protect business on divorce

But I contributed everything to this marriage!

Sometimes you can keep non matrimonial assets out of the pot for division. These include –

  • Assets built up before the marriage
  • Inheritances
  • Businesses

But non matrimonial assets will go into the pot if this is the only way for example to answer the children’s need for housing. See my blog Ring fence and protect assets on divorce.

What is a clean break, can I still get maintenance?

See my blog Maintenance and clean break on divorce.

How do you Split Assets in a Divorce in the UK?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question How do you Split Assets in a Divorce in the UK. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post How do you Split Assets in a Divorce in the UK? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for How do you Split Assets in a Divorce in the UK? Moving a House on Wikimedia

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Maintenance and Clean Break on Divorce

Maintenance and Clean Break on Divorce

Maintenance and Clean Break on Divorce

  • Who’s entitled to Spousal Maintenance? How’s it calculated?
  • What’s a Clean Break, and is it the answer?
  • And what about Nominal, Capitalised, or Secured Maintenance?
  • And what on earth is a Duxbury Calculation?

Here’s a quick answer to all these questions and more, and I hope you’ll find it helpful. If anything’s not clear, please leave a comment, or get in touch. And right at the end I mention some of the topics I’ll be covering in my next blog about Child Maintenance.

Can I Claim Maintenance (aka Periodical Payments)?

It depends on your financial circumstances. The Court used to make lifelong Maintenance orders as a matter of course. But now a “Clean Break” is much more likely.

What’s a “Clean Break”?

It’s when the Matrimonial assets are shared out and you call it a day, you have no continuing right to Maintenance. But people do still sometimes avoid a Clean Break and get a Maintenance order, so read on.

What are the Options for Maintenance?

Maintenance can be:

  • Open ended
  • For a fixed period of time
  • Capitalised (see below)
  • Secured (see below)
  • Dismissed (see below)
  • Not dismissed but not in payment – a “Nominal Periodical Payments” order (see below)

How is Maintenance Worked Out?

It’s usually a question of need. What does the lesser earner, usually the parent with whom the children live, need in order to pay all the outgoings?

It’s only in exceptional cases that entitlement goes beyond needs, and this is where there’s an excess of income. There’s no set formula but the Courts say the concepts of “sharing” and “compensation” should be applied.

How Do “Sharing” and “Compensation” Differ from “Needs”

“Sharing” is, briefly, the idea of sharing in the “fruits of the marriage”. So it’s an attempt at fairness rather than just covering needs. “Compensation” refers to big money divorces where Maintenance is likely to go far beyond needs. These complex areas are discussed in the cases of Miller and McFarlane.

If there’s high income in your divorce, you’d be wise to seek advice from an expert Family Solicitor to make sure you don’t miss out. Most offer initial free advice. We certainly do.

What is Capitalised Maintenance?

The payer pays a lump sum upfront representing a certain amount of Maintenance over a certain period of time. Family lawyers use a Duxbury Calculation to work out the appropriate figure. This can result in a “Clean Break” (see above).

What’s a Duxbury Calculation?

Tables to work out a lump sum which represents the appropriate level and duration of Maintenance. They are contained in At A Glance, Essential Tables for Financial Remedies published by the Family Law Bar Association. The 2018-2019 edition comes out in April and can be preordered here for £70.

What is Secured Maintenance?

Are you worried your Maintenance won’t be paid? If so you can either agree, or the Court can make, a Secured Maintenance order. But this is only appropriate if the payer has sufficient assets to cover the payments.

What Happens When Entitlement to Maintenance is Dismissed?

You lose your entitlement to Maintenance. If you have the slightest doubt, seek advice from a Family Law solicitor.

What are Nominal Periodical Payments?

It’s when you’re not receiving Maintenance, but your entitlement is not dismissed. You might be able to go back for a second bite of the cherry if your circumstances change. These Maintenance orders are often worded as “five pence a year”.

Why are Nominal Periodical Payment Orders Important?

They protect the lesser earner, typically the parent who has the children living with them. So for example if the parent suffers a catastrophic injury and is unable to work, the order could be a safety net.

Can Maintenance Be Agreed?

Yes, of course. If you need a little guidance, “Pay As You Go” divorce costs can be helpful.  Otherwise you can try negotiation, collaborative law, or mediation. The last resort is an application to the Court which of course is expensive and stressful, but sometimes necessary.

Is a Court Order Necessary?

Even if there’s full agreement it’s wise to have a Consent Order. This prevents misunderstandings. A good Family Solicitor can draw up a Consent Order for a fixed fee.

Can Maintenance be Varied?

An application to the Court can be made by either of you if there’s been a change in circumstances. This could be for example illness or redundancy. Or perhaps one of you has landed a well paid job, or there’s been an inheritance.

What Happens If I Remarry?

Your Spousal Maintenance will end.

Next Week’s Blog – “Maintenance for Children”

Following on from this blog about “Maintenance and Clean Break on Divorce” I will be posting a blog to cover the following questions:

  • Can I get Maintenance for the Children?
  • How much will it be?
  • Is there Maintenance for Children over 16 but not in full time education?
  • What about school fees?
  • Is it different if the absent parent is a very high earner?

Maintenance and Clean Break on Divorce

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on Maintenance and Clean Break on divorce. In this 20 minute session we will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

See my blog about how to get the best financial settlement on divorce.

Did you know there are different rules for Short Marriages?


JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. This includes same sex couples and their families. Visit our website just-family-law.com The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

image Happy Family by Joy Coffman on Wikimedia

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