Financial & Property Disputes

A separation can have a devastating emotional impact on both parties, not to mention any children involved. What should never be overlooked no matter how easy the temptation, is to consider the financial needs of both spouses and the children. No two cases are ever the same. This is a complex area in which Sital can help you straight away. A financial settlement on divorce will be tailored first to meet a couple’s reasonable needs. A settlement is only very rarely affected by marital misconduct. Please note that adultery is not a basis for increasing a financial settlement. All the income and assets of the parties must be quantified and decisions made on the future requirements of both spouses and their children.

Agreements can be reached about the division of all assets such as a home or homes, business interests, investments in companies, pensions, trusts, offshore assets, and both parties' incomes including future earnings. Financial settlements should be flexible and fair to both sides. Payment of spousal maintenance, child support, lump sums, transfers of property, share transfers and pension sharing will follow an agreement or court order. Sital will review all of these areas in detail for you.

The law is ever evolving in its interpretation and application but it will come down to one simple question. What is a fair division for this particular couple and their children? How much do they both reasonably need moving forward and how should the income and assets be fairly shared between them?

In most cases the assets are easily identified and valued, income disclosed, expenditure budgets and capital needs for both parties determined going forward. Usually, after negotiation, an agreement is reached. Difficulties can arise particularly in more complex cases, such as:

  • Where the assets are located
  • What they are really worth, if disputed
  • Whether they are regarded in law as “matrimonial” or “non matrimonial” (whether they have been earned prior to the marriage, after the separation, or come from family gifts or inheritances)
  • To what extent all assets should be shared and in what proportions
  • Whether assets are liquid and easily realisable
  • Whether there are enough assets to fund a clean break without continuing spousal maintenance
  • The impact of a pre-nuptial agreement

Some cases involving high net worth individuals involve interests in differing types of trusts, both onshore and offshore, and interests in a web of companies, whether formed before or after the marriage and offshore assets which are not easily realisable even with an English Court Order. In complex assets cases, the case might begin with a discussion as to which country will provide the best solution and if in England, an injunction and other action could be taken to protect the status quo until the case is resolved.

In all cases, the English Court will require full and frank disclosure on the part of both parties, to each other and to the Court as part of the initial process. All the income and assets of the parties will be taken into account, including in more complex cases, interests in companies, trusts, pensions, properties, income distribution from all sources, on and offshore assets, contents and valuables.

It is imperative to assess not only the immediate short-term impact a separation will have including if necessary payment of litigation funding, spousal and child maintenance but also as the case progresses to consider the longer-term future needs of both spouses and children by reference to their standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. If there are sufficient assets to sever all ties, a “clean break” solution may be the outcome. Even then there is no formula for a clean break. A 50/50 division may only be a starting point. If a clean break is not possible, continuing maintenance may be a possibility, whether for life or until re-marriage or such period as may be agreed or ordered by the Court.

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