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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Pensions on Divorce – What Can You Expect?

Pensions On Divorce

Worried about pensions on divorce? Make sure you know how to get your fair share, and how to protect a pension which shouldn’t be included.

Valuing Pensions on Divorce

Ask your pension provider for the Cash Equivalent Transfer Value of your pension. This will give you an idea of the value of the pension but it can be inaccurate.

If you’re making a claim over a valuable pension you should consider obtaining a valuation from an actuary.

Pension Actuarial Reports

This will help you get a fair share of a valuable pension. An actuary will work out the realistic value. He or she will advise how best to divide the pension to provide equality of income in retirement. This will for example take into consideration your different life expectancies. If you’re a woman, you will need more than half as you’re likely to live longer.

State Pension after Divorce

Find out your entitlement to a State Pension when working out your financial settlement. Here’s a link to a form you can complete to obtain a forecast. Or you can phone, or emailYou can obtain an online forecast if you have an HMRC account

Family Home or a Share of Ex’s Pension?

It’s a hard decision. But in the long run you could face a difficult retirement with a limited income whilst your ex is reaping the benefit of a valuable pension pot. Make sure you get expert legal adviceMost Divorce Solicitors offer free initial advice – we certainly do.

What is Offsetting?

This is where one of you keeps their pension and the other gets more property or savings etc instead. But there’s always the risk the pension will ultimately provide more security in retirement than the alternative assets.

Can I Keep My Pension out of the Divorce?

Try arguing it’s a non matrimonial asset. Can you say some or all of it accrued before the marriage? Or can you offer a greater share of other assets to compensate? But the only fool proof method is to enter into a Prenuptial Agreement before the marriage, or a Postnuptial Agreement during the marriage.

See my blog Ring Fence & Protect Assets On Divorce.

Pension Sharing on Divorce after Retirement

One approach is to equalise your incomes with a pension sharing order or a maintenance order. This is a complex area and you should seek expert advice from a family law solicitor.

Getting Married?

If you don’t want to risk your pension (or other assets), consider a Prenuptial Agreement. Here’s a helpful factsheet on the subject.

What is a Pension Sharing Order?

It gives away a share of a pension by transferring a percentage of it into another scheme. The Order can be made by consent so you don’t have to go to Court. It’s served on the pension provider. Bear in mind pension providers charge fees for sharing pensions. Here’s a link to the form that needs to be filled in. It’s annexed to a Consent Order. (Read here how a Consent Order will protect you).

Can I get my Ex’s State Pension?

You may be able to use your ex’s National Insurance Contributions to boost your State Pension. The Additional State Pension can also be shared on divorce. Here’s a helpful link to the Pensions Advisory Service

Pensions on Divorce

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on Pensions 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 Bubble Couple by Martin Mutch on Wikimedia

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Ring Fence and Protect Assets on Divorce

Ring Fence and Protect Assets On Divorce
Ring Fence and Protect Assets On Divorce

Is it possible to ring fence and protect assets on divorce, to keep certain assets out of the pot for division? Yes, you can sometimes protect assets but it depends on all the circumstances. In this blog we consider the following vital questions and some prudent steps you can take. Scroll down to find the answers:

  • Is it a matrimonial or a non matrimonial asset?
  • Is it possible to protect inheritances?
  • Can a business be ring fenced?
  • Is transferring assets to someone else the answer?
  • How are assets split on divorce?
  • What’s the best way to ring fence and protect assets?

Let’s start with an example …

I have a friend who’s a magician. She puts on brilliant shows, and her husband of ten years is her glamorous assistant. But now he’s saying he’s fed up with sharing the limelight with a bunch of rabbits. He wants a divorce and furthermore he wants half of everything.

Is it a matrimonial or a non matrimonial asset?

I advise her that non matrimonial assets can sometimes be kept out of the pot for division. So what are ‘non matrimonial’ assets? They can include:

  • Assets built up before the marriage
  • Inheritances
  • Businesses

But if there aren’t enough matrimonial assets left to fulfil her husband’s needs for example for housing, non matrimonial assets can be used to plug the gap.

Is it possible to ring fence and protect inheritances?

My friend throws up her hands with relief. “Thank goodness!” she cries. “I won’t lose my magic cabinet.” She’s particularly fond of this extraordinary antique as her grandfather left it to her in his will. Her magician ancestor, The Great Mirando, is famous for disappearing within the depths of this very cabinet during a lost weekend in Blackpool.

In this particular case it may be possible to ring fence and protect assets on divorce. This is because she has never used her valuable inheritance in her business and she has never allowed it to be used as a matrimonial asset.

If she had sold it, for example, and bought the family home with the proceeds this would be an entirely different question. Her husband would have a much stronger claim.

Read my recent blog on Protecting Inheritance On Divorce for some helpful tips.

Can a business be ring fenced?

I advise my friend that her husband might make a claim over her business if it has any value.

She laughs. She tells me her assets comprise trick cards and table clothes, magic chains and manacles, and, of course, three rabbits and a rather malodorous hat. They really have no value at all. And as for income, there isn’t any. She does it all for charity. My friend and her husband live off their wages from their respective jobs. He works in a shop. She works in an office.

In this case, the business has no value either in terms of assets or income. What would happen if it did? See my recent post about Protecting Your Business On Divorce.

How about transferring assets to someone else?

My friend has a savings account and some shares. She’s thinking of transferring them to her sister.

Not a good idea. She risks a court order freezing her assets and a hefty costs order. And if she hides assets this could lead to imprisonment for contempt of court. Both she and her husband must give full and frank disclosure of their finances (how to do this is explained in my recent blog).

Even though my friend has taken a course in advanced escapology it’s advisable not to run this kind of risk.

How are assets split on divorce?

What will happen to their house, their savings and pensions, and their caravan in Morecambe?

I advise her the starting point for division is a fifty fifty split although there are special considerations. These include the care of children, the extent of the couple’s wages and their earning capacity. Also their standard of living during the marriage, and their ages. The length of the marriage is important, too. As is their health. Lastly what the couple put into the marriage financially, and their individual financial needs.

What’s the best way to ring fence and protect assets on divorce?

The good news is she has met someone new, a fellow magician. It’s early days, and she wants to get her divorce sorted out first, but who knows, this could be the real thing.

I advise her if they decide to tie the knot, she ought to think about a prenuptial agreement. She says she will certainly keep this idea up her billowy sleeve along with her magic cards and scarves.

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on ring fencing and protecting your assets on divorce. In this 20 minute session we will review your matrimonial financial 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 credit: Ungár Anikó bűvész by Fortepan/Urbán Tamás on Wikimedia Commons

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