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Divorce Splitting Assets UK Guide

Besides the legal process of obtaining a divorce and all aspects involving children there are also important financial elements involved when getting divorced.

This guide considers the financial side of divorce in the UK and specifically which personal assets are included in the matrimonial pot when splitting assets in divorce.

The general principle is that the matrimonial pot should be divided equally upon divorce. But the process is often not that simple, read on to find out why and what your options are. 

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    How are personal assets divided in a divorce?

    The general principle is that the matrimonial pot should be divided equally in a divorce.

    Although each individual divorce will have its own specific set of circumstances, and the court may decide that one party is entitled to a larger share (depending on need), there is however an assumption of a 50:50 split as the starting point.

    But there is an overriding principle of ‘fairness’ which may well trump a simple division of assets.

    Fair divorce settlement examples UK

    When researching divorce splits the common split examples are a divorce 70/30 asset split, a 60/40 asset split or a 50/50 asset split. Less common is an 80/20 asset split divorce.

    Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 sets out the various factors which a family law court should take into account when deciding on how any assets should be divided, including:

    • the welfare of any children under the age of 18 (this is the primary consideration);
    • the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
    • the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
    • the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage; and
    • the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage.

    Which assets are typically included in a divorce?

    Most assets that have been acquired or built up during the course of the marriage will be added to the so-called ‘matrimonial pot’ upon divorce. These include:

    • Matrimonial home – the house where husband and wife lived (irrespective of whose name is on the deed).
    • Personal savings – whether these are in individual or joint accounts, any monetary assets are generally added to the pot.
    • Pensions – this is considered to be a matrimonial asset, and its value can be taken into account when coming to a financial settlement.
    • Business assets – even non-family businesses that were just set up and managed by one spouse are generally considered to belong to both husband and wife in terms of their value. But rather than selling the business and splitting proceeds, often the division of assets will be realised via ongoing maintenance payments and/or a lump sum.
    • Personal belongings – Items such as sofas, TVs, jewellery, and pets are often included within financial agreements.

    Any non-matrimonial property including an inheritance or assets which were acquired before the marriage, and kept separately from joint finances, are often treated differently in the context of divorce.

    If money is inherited by either spouse during the marriage, the question of whether it will be added to the matrimonial pot will depend upon several factors. You can find out more in this article: Are inherited assets split upon divorce?

    The rationale behind this was set out in the case of White v. White, in which the court acknowledged the view, widely but not universally held, that ‘property owned by one spouse before the marriage and inherited property whenever acquired stand on a different footing from what may be loosely called matrimonial property’.

    Example of a potential ‘fair’ divorce settlement

    Although the divorce settlement you reach will depend upon your specific scenario, common arrangements can include:

    1. 50:50 split of assets – with monthly maintenance paid to the primary carer of any children.
    2. Mother and children remain in the matrimonial home – husband pays the mortgage.
    3. Lump-sum of money is paid to one-spouse – known as a ‘clean break’.

    How long after a divorce can you claim assets?

    Although a decree absolute officially ends a marriage, financial claims can be made by either party well into the future, unless:

    • A prenuptial agreement was entered into before marriage.
    • A clean break order or a consent order has been put in place – these essentially prevent future claims.
    • Remarriage – if one party has remarried, this can prevent them from making a financial claim.

    Otherwise, there is no time limit on any claims.

    This is why obtaining a consent order upon divorce is vital. Without one either party to the divorce can claim on the other’s assets years later.

    Your ex-spouse could be entitled to claim not just against your pension(s), but also against your money and other assets you’ve built it.

    Many couples believe their divorce is amicable and therefore they do not need it, however, there have been many cases where one party’s circumstances change and they then wish to make a claim and without a consent order, they may be successful.

    We offer a variety of financial consent order services starting at just £199. Use our quick and easy tool below to find out which service is suitable for you.

    What are my financial rights to money and assets in a divorce?

    Every marriage is unique which means that the way in which assets will be divided upon divorce – whether this is a mutual decision by the separating parties or the result of court proceedings – is very much down to the individual circumstances.

    There are generally no automatic rights; instead, it will be about meeting the needs of both husband and wife – and, more importantly, ensuring that any children are adequately provided for.

    What happens if we cannot agree on how to divide our assets?

    It’s always best to come to a fair agreement between yourselves however, sometimes this just isn’t possible.

    The courts can then help decide how your assets should be split but this does come at a cost.

    Mediation may work & help keep the costs down but it’s always best to seek legal advice, especially if you believe you are not getting a fair settlement. This article: What am I Entitled to in a Divorce may also be helpful.