How are your assets divided if you separate?
Separating from your spouse brings enough strain without having to worry about what will happen to your property and belongings. In this blog we discuss ‘non-matrimonial assets’; what they are, how they can be divided, and how we can help you if you do separate from your spouse.
The starting point for division of matrimonial assets is 50:50. That does not necessarily mean that each party to the marriage will walk away with exactly 50% of the matrimonial assets; it is simply the starting point for assessing what should happen. The 50:50 split, also known as the ‘yardstick of equality’, may move depending on the factors of the individual case. These can include the age of the parties, the length of the marriage, whether there are any children, or the earning capacity of the parties.
You will notice that I have used the term ‘matrimonial assets’. In some cases, there are assets or property which are described as ‘non-matrimonial assets’.
Non-matrimonial property/assets are largely defined as:
- ‘Property owned by one spouse before the marriage and inherited property, whenever acquired.’
- ‘Property acquired during the marriage, otherwise by inheritance or gift.’
Case law has indicated that the ‘sharing principle’ (the 50:50 split) should apply first to matrimonial assets. If the division takes into account the needs of the parties and/or the children of the marriage, then there is no need to divide the non-matrimonial assets.
In other cases, the non-matrimonial property and/or assets may be brought into the mix. Again, it is important to note that this does not necessarily mean your ex-partner will be awarded 50% of your non-matrimonial assets. It means that they may be awarded a percentage which will allow them to gain financial independence and to result in a fair outcome in the circumstances of the individual case.
In cases that involve additional ‘non-matrimonial’ houses, owned by either spouse and bought before the marriage, the court has been known to order this property to be transferred to the other party.
Overall, the manner in which the court should have regard to any division of both matrimonial or non-matrimonial assets depends on the facts of each case. The issue of protecting “non-matrimonial assets” varies considerably if the parties are not married or have already married.
What can you do?
There are actions you can take to protect your position and your assets, including a pre-nuptial agreement if you are not yet married or a post-nuptial agreement if you are.
You may just want to know more about how your assets are likely to be treated if there is a relationship breakdown.
We offer a fixed price meeting which can either be at our offices in Brighton or by telephone or Skype. During the meeting we will answer your questions and discuss your situation so that at the end of the meeting you will have a clear action plan setting out your options.