It is hard to keep 'your' money apart
LUCY Webley, Head of Family Law at Lexel-accredited Leigh Young Solicitors, answers common questions surrounding family law.
Q: Before I married, I set up a very successful business and owned my own property. I am concerned that if I divorce my spouse, they will make a claim against these assets.
A: Working towards a financial settlement on a divorce involves getting to grips with the 'matrimonial assets'. In other words, how much money is in the pot.
If you have assets that were built up before the marriage or perhaps gained through an inheritance, it is important to look at what has happened to those assets since the marriage.
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If a property has been lived in as the family home, it is going to be more difficult to argue that this should be kept out of the settlement.
The extent to which the family finances have been mixed together often plays a part. Sometimes, the longer the marriage the more difficult it will be to keep things separate. But if you have a property that you rented out and invested the money separately then that may be safe.
One of the most important factors that courts and lawyers have to consider is needs.
By that I mean can your spouse's needs for income and capital be met out of the family pot?
If not, it may be that assets which pre-date the marriage need to be included.
Most importantly, if you are saying your business and property should not be included, you will need to prove they were owned by you prior to the marriage and back this up with paperwork.
If you have yet to tie the knot you should consider a pre-nuptial agreement.
These agreements are not fully legally binding. However, when properly drafted, with expert independent legal advice, financial disclosure and signed in good time before the wedding, they can help a great deal.
The position can then be confirmed or reviewed and updated in a post-nuptial agreement.
This issue has received some press recently. Take a look at the 'news' section on our website for an article on the shake-up of maintenance rules.
Leigh Young Solicitors, One Rowcroft, Stroud
01453 762 114, l