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When I initially meet with a client to discuss their separation, one of the burning questions on their mind is about how the assets of the marriage will be divided on divorce.

So that I can assess what a fair and equitable divorce settlement would look like, the first step is to establish what the assets are made up of and the value of those assets. Whilst not an exhaustive list, this can commonly include assets such as:

  • Property;
  • Bank account balances;
  • Savings and investments;
  • Insurance policies;
  • Valuable items such as cars, jewellery, watches, collections;
  • Business assets including shareholdings in limited companies;
  • Pension funds.

It is also important to understand the extent of any liabilities such as mortgages, loans, credit cards and finance agreements.

Understanding how assets are divided on divorce

I will need to ascertain the income position of each party to the marriage whether through salary, bonuses, dividends, investments, interests in trusts, rental income or state benefits. It is important to also understand what each party’s outgoings are including any costs for their children.

Once I am able to satisfy myself that I have a full picture of the property and finances of the marriage, I can then advise as to how those assets may be divided and what I would consider to be a fair financial settlement between the divorcing couple. In short, I will be advising a client as to the division of capital including properties, pensions and income.

The legal starting point is the equalisation of matrimonial assets on divorce. However, there are a number of relevant factors which could lead to a departure from equality which can be found at section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 as follows:

  • the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire;
  • the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
  • the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;
  • the age of each party to the marriage and the 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 to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family;
  • the conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it;
  • in the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage, the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring.

Regard should be had for the needs of both parties to the marriage and the needs of the children. This includes capital needs such as a home to live in and also income needs to enable each party to meet their monthly expenditure and any expenses incurred on behalf of their children.

Matrimonial law is a complex area and there is no one size fits all when it comes to dividing assets on divorce. It is therefore important that you seek independent family legal advice from an expert family law solicitor.

At Consilia Legal, we have a specialist team of divorce lawyers who can advise and support you through the divorce process and help you to achieve a fair and equitable divorce settlement.

We also offer a divorce and family law mediation service at our offices in Leeds city centre, Harrogate and London or remotely for those further afield.

We believe we’re the best at what we do. To speak to one of our family law solicitors, you can call 0113 322 9222 or email