Getting divorced? Check out our five most frequently asked questions about sorting the finances

Will I keep my home?

Your fNGA_Stock_201amily home is not just an asset, but the place where you live (or have lived) together, and where you may be raising your children. It is an important family asset (typically the largest) and it is usually the biggest concern for separating couples who are anxious about their longer term living arrangements.

Who retains the family home after divorce is complicated and it depends on your particular family circumstances, your needs and the overall asset picture. A sale may be the best solution if there are insufficient resources or if financial resources were strained prior to the relationship breakdown. A sale may not be appropriate if there are enough resources to meet each of your needs and/or if you have children who are settled in the home and local schooling.

If you and your partner cannot agree, either of you can ask the family court to make a decision as part of an overall financial settlement. The court’s first consideration will be the welfare of any children, but it must also have regard to all of the s25 factors which will help determine whether it is appropriate for the home to be retained or sold to realise capital.

What will happen to my pension?

As well as the family home, pensions are often a very valuable asset and something that you (and your partner) may be relying on in respect of your long term future.  As with your other assets, your pension will be taken into account as part of any overall financial settlement when you get divorced.

The court will want to know the true value of your pension before making any decisions, both in respect of the capital value and the future income it is likely to generate.

Whilst there is no obligation on the court to make any orders relating to pensions, they must consider, as in all financial matters, the s25 factors and, the particular circumstances of each case. There are a variety of orders that they can make specifically in relation to pensions including a pension sharing, offsetting and earmarking.

Will I have to pay maintenance to my ex?

Spousal maintenance is an amount of money the family court orders to be paid by one ex-spouse to another following a divorce. The purpose is usually to protect a spouse who has previously been dependent on his or her partner’s income. It can be paid for a specific period of time or until a particular event occurs.

Spousal maintenance is not ordered in every case and whether it is appropriate will depend on you and your partner’s needs, ages and whether you are caring for children and other factors.

There is no set formula that the court applies when weighing up whether or not to make an order for spousal maintenance and the court has a great deal of discretion. In all cases, however, the court has a duty to consider whether a clean break can be achieved. If maintenance is awarded, the court will try and limit the duration as far as practically possible.

Are inherited assets ring-fenced on divorce?

Inherited assets will not automatically be ring-fenced when negotiating a divorce since all of your individual and joint assets will be taken into account by the court. However, such assets may be treated differently if they were acquired before your relationship and if you and your spouse’s needs can be met from other financial assets. Inheritance is always an emotive asset (quite understandably) and if this is something that is relevant to you and your family, we can advise you further.

What happens if we can’t agree a settlement?

If you and your spouse cannot agree a financial settlement via solicitors, mediation should be considered as a next step. If mediation is unsuccessful or your spouse is unwilling to engage in the process, then you can make an application to the family court to make a decision for you. Court proceedings will always be a last resort but they can be helpful in situations where a spouse is not engaging in voluntary discussions/disclosure and/or there have been lots of delays and little progress. If this is something you are experiencing with your spouse we would be happy to explore the next best steps with you to steer things forward.

If you would like any advice on your personal circumstances please email us at hello@ngalaw.co.uk or call on 020 3701 5915 and we will explain how we can help.

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