Splitting assets in divorce: A guide to “who gets what”

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When going through the process of divorce, you may have many questions regarding who will be responsible for the children, and “who gets what” when splitting assets in divorce. Those ending a marriage or civil partnership may be able to agree on how to divide matrimonial assets between themselves; however, these agreements will not be legally binding unless a consent order is obtained from the court. In some circumstances, divorcing couples may require input from the court to help them come to an agreement on the division of assets in divorce – this is known as ancillary relief.

What is ancillary relief?

Ancillary relief, also known as financial remedy, is a term used to refer to the process of dividing assets and determining financial arrangements during a divorce. This includes decisions about property, finances, and maintenance payments. This process is governed by section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

The court may make orders for financial settlements, including the transfer of property such as the matrimonial home, the payment of child maintenance, and the sharing of pensions. The court will consider the needs and resources of each party, as well as the welfare of any children involved, when making a decision on ancillary relief. The objective of the court is to ensure that the financial needs of both parties are met, and that any children are provided for, as far as possible, in the circumstances.

How will the court come to a decision on splitting assets in divorce?

When determining the division of assets in a divorce case, the family court will consider various sections of Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. These include:

  1. Section 25(2) which states the court’s duty to consider the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources that each party has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future. They will also take into consideration their financial needs, obligations and responsibilities.
  2. Section 25(2)(a) that requires the court to take into account the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage.
  3. Section 25(2)(b) which states the court must consider the age of each party, the length of the marriage and the parties’ physical and mental health.
  4. Section 25(2)(c) which states the court must consider the contributions that each party has made or is likely to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family.
  5. Section 25(2)(d) which states the court must consider the conduct of each party, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it.
  6. Section 25(2)(e) which states the court must consider the value to each of them of any benefit which, by reason of the dissolution of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring. 

The court will also consider any other factors it considers relevant, in order to achieve fairness in the distribution of assets.

The judge will attempt to meet everyone’s needs and will try to ensure the decision is as fair as possible. The reason for the divorce will not be a factor in making a decision on splitting assets in divorce.

During ancillary relief proceedings, the court will aim for a clean break so that parties can move on with their lives as quickly as possible.

Types of court orders for splitting assets in divorce

During ancillary relief proceedings, the court can make various orders to divide assets and determine financial agreements for the parties involved. Some of the common court orders that can be made include:

  1. Property adjustment orders: This is an order for the transfer of ownership of a property, or the right to occupy a property. This could be a house, land or a commercial property.
  2. Periodical payments orders: This is an order for one party to pay maintenance to the other party, either for a fixed period of time or indefinitely.
  3. Lump sum orders: This is an order for one party to pay a lump sum of money to the other party, either in a single payment or in instalments.
  4. Pension sharing orders: This is an order for the division of pension rights between the parties, either by way of a pension sharing order or by way of a pension attachment order.
  5. Third party debt orders: This is an order for a third party, such as a bank, to pay a debt or assets to one of the parties.
  6. Prohibited steps orders: This is an order to prevent one party from doing something, such as selling or disposing of an asset.
  7. Specific issue orders: This is an order for a specific action to be taken in relation to a child, such as schooling or medical treatment.

It’s important to note that these orders are not mutually exclusive, and the court can make multiple orders to achieve a fair outcome. Also, the court will consider the needs and resources of each party, as well as the welfare of any children involved, when making a decision on the court orders.

How much does ancillary relief cost?

The cost of ancillary relief, or financial remedy, during a divorce can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the assets involved.

There is no fixed cost for ancillary relief proceedings; however, a court fee applies regardless of whether you’re applying for a divorce on your own or jointly with your spouse.

If you’re on a low income or receiving certain benefits, you may be able to get help with paying the court fee.

In addition to the court fee, there are other costs associated with ancillary relief, such as legal fees for legal advice, assistance and representation by a solicitor or barrister, the cost of valuations of property and businesses, and the cost of any experts that may be needed, such as accountants or pension experts.

Legal aid may be available to some individuals who can’t afford to pay for a lawyer, but it is only available in very limited circumstances.

It is difficult to give an estimate of the cost, as it depends on the complexity of the case, the assets involved, and the legal representation you choose.

Most of the solicitors on our panel will charge a fixed fee for their services. This will be discussed with you before you agree to proceed with your case.

How can Expert Family Law assist?

Our panel of experienced family solicitors can deal with all aspects of a divorce, including ancillary relief and splitting assets in divorce. The breakdown of a marriage is never easy, and we aim to ensure the process of obtaining ancillary relief is as stress free as possible.

We ensure that the divorce solicitors on our panel have the skills and experience required to assist on your legal case. We can assure you that your case will be dealt with in a compassionate and understanding manner.

The solicitors on our panel can assist you through the process of divorce, including the application, as well as assisting you with child arrangements, financial settlements and ancillary relief following the termination of your marriage.

Get in touch today using the form at the top of the page to find out if a divorce solicitor from our panel could help on your case.

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