10 March, 2009
In a society where one day newspapers are reporting a footballer's wife is getting almost a 50% share of the assets in her divorce settlement and another day are reporting what seems like a hugely different result in, for example, the Mills v McCartney case where the financial settlement is for a far lesser percentage, can we predict with any certainty the outcome of financial cases?
The primary legislation has not changed since 1973. When a Judge is deciding a case, she/he must have regard to a number of factors. How those are applied to each individual case is a matter for the Judge. What has changed over the years with the Higher Courts giving Judgments is the way in which the factors should be applied.
The main considerations are each party's income, earning capacity, financial resources, needs and responsibilities, standard of living during the marriage, age of the parties, duration of the marriage, disabilities suffered, contributions made, loss of benefit as a result of the divorce and conduct of the parties.
What is consistently true is that the Court's first consideration is ensuring any minor children's needs are met. Often, because of limited financial resources, the case is only about allocating resources to meet needs. The main example is where the wife/husband needs the capital to house the children who are in their care. If the resources exceed the needs of the children/the parent caring, it is then that more complicated arguments about equality or contribution are an issue.
These are the cases where the ageing pop star argues that the wife made no contribution to the wealth that existed before the marriage and so should recover a limited settlement. Another example is when the footballer argues that it was his skill that led to the family's riches but the wife argues that she contributed equally by caring for the children and facilitating a life where the footballer only had to concentrate on his footballing career. All of these considerations are underpinned by a judicial ambition to create fairness which is often finely balanced.
So when reading about cases in the press, always bear in mind there is usually more money at play than is needed and the arguments then become more complicated than the ones faced by most people resolving financial matters in their divorce.
For a free consultation, further information and advice on the distribution of financial assets in a divorce, contact Helen Shirbon at our Chorley office on 01257 260600 or contact Helen Shirbon by email.
The family law team at Forbes Solicitors includes specialist family law and divorce solicitors who offer advice on all areas of family law, including divorce, division of assets following marriage breakdown, cohabitee issues, ancillary relief, civil partnerships, children matters and change of name deeds. For further information on family / divorce issues please contact any member of our family law team on freephone 0800 689 1058.