Can We Divide Assets before Divorce is Issued?

Posted on: 7 mins read
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Lorraine Harvey

Partner, Family Law

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You can divide assets before your divorce is issued but you should consider getting a Separation Agreement to set out any financial arrangements you make before getting a divorce in England or Wales.

It’s important to remember that if any financial issues come up in the future, the Court will only consider what assets you both have from the date that you begin the divorce process, not from the date that you and your ex made your Separation Agreement. But it’s a good option for you if you’re not looking to issue divorce proceedings just yet.

Our Divorce Solicitors understand that finances can be a difficult topic in divorce or separation. But we can help you divide your assets when separating so that both you and your ex know where you stand now and if you decide to divorce further down the line.

We can put your mind at ease so that your finances won’t be something you’ll have to worry about when separating.

When you’re going through a difficult separation and an even more difficult divorce, the last thing you’ll want to be dealing with is the stresses of figuring out what will happen to your assets and joint finances you share. It’s even more difficult having to divide these assets.

That’s why we’ll always listen to your story and your situation, so we can better understand what route will work best for you, so we can minimise the amount of stress you’ll be under, and we of course want to limit the amount of conflict you may have to face when dividing these finances.

We will always aim to be a safe and confidential space for you to air any worries or concerns you may have about the legal side of your divorce and the financial assets and separation surrounding it. We will advise wherever we can, including suggesting ways to discuss finances with your ex-spouse without arguments or difficult emotions arising, whether it’s mediation, negotiation or something else.

Whatever stage of your divorce you may be in, we can always provide legal advice to help you know what’s going on, and to help you prepare for what may happen in the future. We will help equip you with the legal know how so you can understand your situation and your case a lot better.

For free initial legal advice get in touch with our Divorce Solicitors.

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How are Assets Divided in Divorce?

There are actually a few ways to divide assets in divorce. Naturally, these all have different processes, requirements and paperwork, all of which we will guide you through if you come to us with your case.

The way you divide your assets will depend on what assets you and your partner have at the time you choose to separate. When you divide assets you’ll need to think about:

  • The family home and any other properties you own
  • Pensions
  • Any savings you have both been putting into
  • Child maintenance payments – if one of you is going to be taking care of the children more than the other
  • Spousal maintenance

It’s easy when making agreements informally to forget about things like pensions, which may seem a long way away. But if one of you stayed at home with the kids while the other went to work then there might be a significant difference between your pensions, so it’s important that you protect your assets whilst also dividing them fairly.

A Separation Agreement won’t be able to cover your future assets, such as pensions. But it is a good short-term solution as it sets out how you will divide your assets in the near future and until you divorce.

To protect your future assets, you’ll need a Consent Order, which is legally binding. But you can only apply for a Consent Order if your divorce is already underway. While this may not be an option for you now, it could come in handy if you and your ex decide to go through with a divorce in the future.

Our Fixed Fee Consent Order option means that we can do all the hard work for you, put your financial agreements in writing and lodge your Consent Order with the Court.

If you’re putting your divorce off for financial reasons, our Fixed Fee Divorce service allows you to know exactly how much your divorce will cost.

This way, you’ll be able to figure out if divorce is a viable option for you. In addition, this service will make sure you know how much the divorce will cost, so you’ll be able to prepare for paying this fee. You’ll therefore be able to figure out how much to save up in preparation for the divorce.

a jar filled with coins

How Do I Protect my Assets in Separation?

You might not be divorcing immediately, either due to the costs associated with this, or because of some other reason. Whatever your situation is, it’s also important to protect your assets in separation, too, as well as protecting them once you’ve actually divorced. This helps you maintain some financial freedom from your ex.

Protecting your assets in separation means that your ex won’t be able to take money from you that they aren’t owed. This is why it’s important to divide your assets and have this discussion while you’re separating, so everyone is clear on what they are owed and what is theirs.

This can be a difficult discussion to have, especially if you’re not on good terms with your ex. The discussion has to be had, though, to make sure that the terms are clear, and to make sure both parties agree when it comes to who gets what and how the money and assets split.

If you don’t have this discussion, it can lead to lots of confusion and potentially some conflict, too, around financials and assets. You might be thinking something completely different to your ex in terms of who owns what, and you won’t know this until you have a chat and work through the details, however difficult it may be. Once you’ve had this discussion, the whole process will be so much easier.

A Separation Agreement can protect your assets before you and your ex divorce because even though it’s not legally binding it will act as a contract between you and your ex. And so if one of you breaks the agreement, the other could take the matter to Court.

And if you eventually decide to divorce, then a breach of your Separation Agreement won’t look too good to the Court if you were hoping to turn your Separation Agreement into a Consent Order when the divorce is finalised.

It might also be a good idea to close any joint bank accounts and open separate accounts, so that there aren’t any disagreements about who is spending who’s money. Dividing assets in separation should be a similar process to dividing assets if you were to divorce. This will make it even easier to have a clean break if you eventually decide to dissolve the marriage fully with a divorce.

Speak to a Divorce Solicitor

Protecting your assets in separation and divorce will always depend on your individual situation. Speaking to a Divorce Solicitor will help you make sure no stone is left unturned when sharing finances in separation or divorce.

One of our Divorce Solicitors will work with you to make sure you won’t have to worry about your finances when separating and we can help you turn your Separation Agreement into a Consent Order if you decide to divorce.

We understand that everyone’s financial situation is different, and we will always tailor our services to your needs.

We will look over your situation and your case, from your financials and assets to your preferences and priorities when it comes to proceedings. Once we have the information we need, we’ll work together to provide tailored advice and to figure out the best way to go forward with your case.

We can provide legal advice and information when it comes to making the decision between separating and getting a divorce. Whichever option you choose, we will help you protect your finances and assets, whether that’s through a Separation Agreement or a Consent Order, or another type of Financial Order.

We fully understand how stressful and emotionally fraught separating or getting a divorce can be, which is why we want to try and help alleviate some of that stress by making the legal side of things as smooth and easy as possible. In addition, we can signpost you to emotional and mental health resources, including therapy and support groups, to help you come to terms with the breakdown in your relationship.

At the end of the day, separation and divorce is hard enough without having to think about the legal side of things. That’s why we aim to take some of that burden off your shoulders, by supporting and advising you along every step of the way.


UK Government. (n.d.). Legal separation. Retrieved from

Money Helper. (n.d.). Separation agreements instead of divorce or dissolution. Retrieved from

Citizens Advice. (n.d.). Deciding what to do when you separate. Retrieved from

Lorraine Harvey

Partner, Family Law

Areas of Expertise:
Family Law

Lorraine is a Partner at Simpson Millar, specialising in Family Law for over 20 years.

She handles middle to high net value cases, including pension claims and complex trust, and also advises on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.

Lorraine has unrivalled knowledge of public sector pensions, in particular police pensions, having advised police officers on pension claims for two decades.

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