Wealth Protection and Retention of Assets in Divorce
Protecting your wealth and your assets during a divorce can be tempting, but it can also disrupt an already unsettled situation and could leave you on the wrong side of the law.
It is vital, therefore, to try to agree the financial arrangements between you and your spouse at the same time as your divorce.
You may feel that the majority of your wealth and assets are rightfully yours to protect and retain, and that your spouse is not as entitled to their share as they think. Yet, going into divorce proceedings completely unprepared can leave you at risk unless you understand how you can protect your assets.
The last thing either of you want is more arguments, but you can avoid numerous pitfalls by getting the right legal advice as soon as possible.
For initial advice get in touch with our Divorce Solicitors.
More Money than Sense?
The Court isn’t going to favour you automatically because you’re the financially stronger one. So, having the strongest legal representation possible is essential because it’s likely the Court will be generous towards the financially weaker spouse.
It’s not all about who has the most money, but who has the most sense.
For instance, you might think that because your assets are held in your sole name that they are well protected. However, your spouse can still be granted entitlement by the Court, if they believe that it’s appropriate in the course of financial remedy proceedings.
It’s also about being open and honest too. Both parties need to make a full and frank financial disclosure for at least the 12 months before the financial remedy proceedings.
You’ll have to produce bank statements, company accounts and any other investments you have and have them analysed so that transactions can be monitored. This works in your favour as much as it does your spouse, and the Court will not approve of any bad behaviour such as hiding assets.
If you’ve moved assets and the Court believes you have done this to prevent your spouse accessing them, the Court can set aside the transaction or add back the value into the matrimonial pot.
Room for Negotiation
The Court is always going to view a marriage as a partnership. The view is that any assets built up throughout the partnership must be divided equally. But it really depends on the financial situation of each person.
The law in England and Wales states that each spouse receives a fair divorce settlement that meets their financial needs.
There is still the argument that you have made a greater contribution to the matrimonial pot. By presenting the right legal argument to the Court, they might depart from the usual process of dividing the assets equally.
For instance, one spouse may have established a vast fortune through their own business ventures, regardless of how long they’ve been married. The Court may view this as an “exceptional contribution” to the assets.
Inheritance can sometimes fall under this umbrella also. The Court may well judge that any inheritance passed down solely to you as long as it never became part of the matrimonial pot.
Are All Assets Divided Equally?
The short answer is, no. Take pensions for instance. This is an asset that you will want to retain, as it’s often the largest financial asset. You may need to concede a larger share of the matrimonial home or your savings as part of the agreement to retain your pension.
This method can also be adopted to retain other significant financial assets, such as overseas properties or business interests. But when it comes to the family home, the Court will always consider the welfare of any children. The Court will probably rule in favor of the main carer of the children, and grant that they can stay in the family home at least until the children reach 18 years old.
Mediation can be a cost effective way to resolve financial issues in divorce. A mediator will act as a neutral and impartial third party and facilitate discussion between you and your spouse.
If you can reach an agreement during mediation, your agreement can be recorded by a Consent Order, saving the considerable cost of contentious Court proceedings. Although mediation is not the obvious method of protecting and retaining assets, it can save you tens of thousands of pounds.
For more information see "How Can I Protect My Assets on Divorce”.
If you are unsure about your financial position in your divorce, our expert Divorce Solicitors can advise you on the next best steps.
For initial advice call our Family Law & Divorce Solicitors
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