The resolution of financial matters in divorce proceedings is incredibly important to all parties involved as this has a bearing on parties ultimately being able to move on and obtain what they are entitled to.
Below are the main questions which you may have immediately post separation before you can even think about issuing divorce proceedings.
Where do I start?
- Begin to collate relevant information and documents relating to the matrimonial finances, both for yourself and if possible for the other party. This includes debts, pension valuations, bank account details and statements, P60’s etc. This can be helpful in assessing your situation, seeing what’s part of the matrimonial pot is and also can be used for the purposes of financial disclosure later on if necessary.
What happens if I or my former spouse moves out of the family home?
- This is dependent on how the property is owned and whose name it is owned in. If the property is owned in joint names, neither of you can sell, transfer nor do anything with the property without the consent or signature of the other and vice versa. Your interest in the property will not decrease or disappear just because you have moved out.
- Likewise, if the property is owned in the sole name of one party, a notice can be registered against the property to protect your interest. You have a beneficial interest in the property by virtue of marriage.
Who pays for what? I.e. what happens to payment of bills if I or my former spouse move out of the family home?
- Until resolution of financial matters, both parties should discharge their liabilities as usual, however if you have vacated the family home then you are not legally obliged to pay towards the utility bills as you are no longer using these. If you wish to continue to contribute then that is a matter for you.
- If the mortgage is in joint names then you are responsible for half of the monthly mortgage payments and buildings insurance.
- The non-resident parent can be liable to pay Child Maintenance towards any child(ren).
- You need to maximise your income, for example claiming all benefits that you are entitled to.
Am I liable for their debts?
- This is dependent on what the debt is, i.e. a credit card, overdraft, finance on a Car, a loan, what the original debt was taken out for and spent on and whose name the debt is in. For example, if the debt is in your former spouse’s sole name, you are not liable to discharge the loan, however the creditor could enforce payments of it against your spouse’s assets which could include your assets.
- We would advise that all joint bank accounts are either frozen or closed down as soon as possible.
What does the Court take into account?
- Various factors contained within section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 which include:-
- The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources of each party.
- The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of each party.
- The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage.
- The age of the parties and duration of the marriage.
- Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage.
- The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely, in the foreseeable future to make.
- The conduct of each of the parties.
It is important to remember that each matter is different and there are various ways in which financial matters overall can be resolved.
If you have any queries then please contact our family department on 0114 220 2186.