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For Married Couples

The law for married couples owning a property together is governed by sections 21a to 28 and others of the Matrimonial Causes Act. The court will also be guided by case law and decisions made in cases over the years will direct the court as to how to interpret the law.

Settling financial and property matters if you are married.

The law is dynamic and the impact of case law constantly refines legal interpretation of the Statute.

Each party to a marriage may claim:

  • Maintenance during the divorce;
  • Maintenance post divorce;
  • A share in capital and property;
  • A share in pensions.

When considering such claims a judge must consider the following:

  • In long marriages, he/she must consider whether equal shares of capital, property and pensions are likely to present the fairest outcome.
  • Where there are children he/she must always have due regard to the financial and other needs of the children and must be guided by those when making his award.

Subject to those above two caveats the law requires the judge to consider: 

  • Each party’s needs (including the needs of children and their primary carer)
  • Each party’s capacity to meet their needs from their own resources
  • The length of the marriage and ages of the parties
  • The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
  • The contributions made by each party
  • Conduct
  • What a party will lose as a result of the marriage break up
  • Any other factor which would be inequitable to disregard.

For most couples, the judge’s thinking and decision making are likely to focus on what each party needs and what their personal capacities are for meeting those needs.  Based on that the judge can then assess what contribution the other party should make towards meeting the needs of their former spouse.

So far as the length of the marriage is concerned, the longer the marriage the more likely the court is to award:

  • Equal shares in capital and pensions
  • Spousal maintenance.

The courts generally assume that each party has made equal contributions to the marriage although, particularly in the case of inheritance, a judge may ring-fence or partly ring-fence some capital or pension so that it is not treated as a matrimonial asset in quite the same way as a matrimonial home or funds in a bank account might be regarded.  For example, assets or pensions acquired before marriage may also be distributed differently.

It is very rare for a court to consider misconduct when assessing the financial issues.  Misconduct which is of a financial nature - where one party has completed depleted matrimonial assets, has injured the other party so that he or she is unable to work or there is other conduct of a gross nature is likely to be taken into account but otherwise a court will generally avoid quantifying the impact of misconduct in financial terms.

Spousal Maintenance

Maintenance tends to be the most difficult issue to quantify. There is no rule about the amount of maintenance which should be paid and the court does not use the 50% starting point which it uses for capital and pensions. Judges have discretion and some Judges will attach more weight to certain factors than others. Depending on the individual facts of the case, Judges may interpret matters differently from case to case. This is why instructing a local solicitor who is familiar with the views of the local Judges can be important.

Child maintenance

The courts no longer (generally) deal with child maintenance. There are some exceptions to this rule. Generally, the parent who has day to day care of the children (or the parent who receives the Child Benefit) may apply to the Child Maintenance Service “CMS” (previously Child Support Agency) for maintenance payments.

The amount of maintenance payable depends on various elements such as the gross weekly income of the parent who must pay maintenance and the number of children.

There are five rates of maintenance. Which rate you have to pay depends on your circumstances. You can use the Gov.uk online calculator to work out the amount of child maintenance for your children.

Inheritance

When determining a claim the Courts will deal with the issue of a spouse or former spouse’s potential claims for a share in the Estate of a spouse or former spouse who passes away.

For Married Couples

Need to speak to a family lawyer?

5/5 Star review
I had used Neves to purchase a house as they were recommended. Unfortunately i was assigned another solicitor who was awful. Thankfully she left and Alima and Awais took over the final registering process which was filled with issues. They did a fantastic job, Alima always responded and was professional. This was much more like the service i was expecting in the first place when they were recommended to me. Due to these two, i would happily use Neves again.
5/5 Star review
Neves recently undertook our conveyancing and did an excellent job; the communication from Charlene Shillingford and her team throughout the whole process was top notch - I don’t recall being kept so up to date during the selling and buying of a house before. Queries were handled quickly and with the minimum of fuss, even when ‘the other side’ were being ‘difficult’. I’ve no reservation in recommending Neves. My heartfelt thanks to Charlene and the conveyancing team for their diligence and care during what can be a fraught time.
5/5 Star review
Beth Woodward, I wanted to say thank you for supporting me on my recent divorce. Faced with one of the most aggressive and unpleasant legal firms in London, you led me through both the family and financial divorce courts and more than achieved every one of my goals for the divorce. Most importantly, I have equal time parenting with my two girls and a really fair settlement so I can support them financially, both not even remotely offered by the other side. You listened and supported me when I really went for it, kept me sane through the FDR and court visits and also gave me the tough messages when I need to hear it. Thank you, I can’t quite explain how we did it, but we did 😊 😊 😊 😊
5/5 Star review
Emily has supported me through a divorce with excellent advice and guidance at every stage. All issues and options were explained clearly and fully. Possible outcomes were fully outlined to me throughout the process. Emily's professionalism has been of the highest standard. The kind and understanding manner in which Emily has supported me at all stages of the process is something that I am extremely grateful for. I literally felt the pressure shift from my shoulders. This is why I give 5 stars for the assistance I received.
5/5 Star review
I left this review for a few months as I wanted to let everything settle down and get my own head space back. On behalf of myself and my family, I just wanted to express our heart felt thanks to Beth for navigating us through a difficult divorce and parenting matters. Perhaps a little unconventional because as a dad, my teenage daughter wanted to remain living with me and yet I was also the main earner. We trusted Beth to give us timely, clear and succinct advice, help challenge tactics from the other side and understand the needs of my daughter whilst protecting my independent assets. We are so pleased with the outcome of the issues and all of the initial objectives were met. Beth, the whole of my family (children and grandchildren too) cannot thank you and your team enough. We have our home and family life back, fun and normality have resumed and a lunatic puppy is in place to help us heal and grow. Having trust in professional people is crucial at such a difficult time in life, and feeling that you have a solicitor of such high calibre took some pressure away when it was hard to deal with everything else. There were times that I felt Beth carried me through the process and times where I almost asked you to make decisions for me. It is a messy process, people get hurt and tears flow but thank you for your professionalism and understanding.
Beth Woodward
Partner and Head of Divorce and Family Law
Heidi Fleming
Senior Associate - Divorce and Family Law
Tina Shah
Senior Associate - Divorce and Family Law
Emily Pope
Associate - Divorce and Family Law
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