Division of Assets

Many divorcing couples have assets that need to be divided between them on divorce. Agreeing on how to divide the assets is often difficult. In many cases the assets are insufficient to meet the needs of both parties and in other cases disparities in income and pensions make it difficult for the parties to find an obvious solution to the problem.

There are statutory guidelines specifying the factors that must be taken into account when deciding on a division of assets. These are outlined in the attached leaflet on Financial Provision on divorce. In the event that a couple is unable to agree on a division or negotiate a settlement with the assistance of a mediator, collaborative lawyer or solicitor the Court will be asked to determine the financial provision to be made for the parties. This should be seen as a last resort however.

Many cases have hit the headlines over the past few years with large financial awards being granted to wives such as Heather Mills-McCartney and Karen Parlour. However such cases can be misleading as they are decided on different principles because of the extent of the assets or the fact that the husband has a high income but maybe for a limited period of time. These are not typical cases although these are the cases that we all read about.

If there are sufficient assets and the marriage is a long one the starting point is an equal division of income and assets. However, equality may be departed from on the basis that the parties have different needs, or because one party has made a greater financial contribution. The needs of any children will be taken into account first which may mean that the party looking after the children will be seeking more than 50% to cater for the needs of the children. This does not mean that that party automatically gets the house however as it might be the case that there is sufficient equity in the property to enable both parties to be adequately housed. All of the circumstances of the case need to be taken into account and each case will turn on its own facts.

The first task is to ascertain what assets are in the pot to be divided and the sooner that this can be established the sooner the parties attention can turn to negotiating a settlement. Up-to date valuations are needed of all assets including pensions and the more information that you can provide to the mediator or your Solicitor at the outset the quicker your case will progress.

In some circumstances one party attempts to hide or dispose of assets. In such cases it is necessary to act quickly to secure the assets. This may entail an application to Court for a financial injunction to freeze certain assets. Specialist legal advice must be sought in these circumstances.

At PJH solicitors we have the knowledge and depth of experience to advise on all types of financial cases whether the assets involved are large or small. We have experience in acting in complex High Court cases for high net worth individuals involving assets both in and outside the jurisdiction, on making applications in this country on overseas decrees and obtaining freezing injunctions when necessary. Whether your case is straightforward or complex we are here to help you find a solution.

For further information on Mediation please click on the link for the S.E. London Family Mediation Bureau on the right.