FAMILY LAW AND FINANCE
The legislation surrounding finances and family law issue is the Family Law Act 1975, subject to the overriding principle of all family law matters that the needs of children of the family will always have top priority. The general standards the courts use when attempting to resolve financial disagreements include:
- Full disclosure of assets, which can include trusts or pensions. This is often a contentious area if assets have been hidden or not disclosed and forcing disclosure is a common battleground
- Examining what financial contributions were made by what parties in the family. This will include an examination of each partner’s earnings.
- Examining what non-financial contributions were made by what parties in the family. These could include looking after the house, taking care of children, fixing up the house and working in your partner’s business without getting paid a wage.
- Examining financial contributions which are indirect. This would include any assets/gifts which were obtained by inheritance.
- Clearly identifying what the financial dispute is, what is owed and what your assets are worth (including identifying all the family debts).
In attempting to resolve financial disputes within families, the courts will also take into account various other factors, including the standard of living that was enjoyed in the family, and future considerations (such as future earning capacity, benefits and health).
Types of Financial Issues which can Arise within Family Law
Examples of types of financial issues which can arise that people are concerned about include:
- Evaluating financial problems when the house is only in one person’s name.
- In most cases, it does not matter that the house is only in one person’s name. However, it is extremely important that if you are considering separating/divorcing, you do not leave the property (particularly if it is under your partner’s name), without consulting a solicitor who specialises in divorce/family law.
- This is because if you are in actual occupation of a property, you are granted certain rights related to it. If you lose your actual occupation, you also lose those rights.
- A solicitor will be able to protect your rights regarding the property.
- Working out the value of maintenance one partner should get.
- A solicitor will be able to help each partner work out any issues regarding maintenance. (If this cannot be worked out, a court will be able to settle the dispute).
- The value of a partner’s maintenance relies on a number of factors. These can include the length of the relationship, each partner’s age and their respective careers.
- Maintenance can be arranged to be paid in monthly instalments, or in some cases, in a lump sum.
- How the assets are distributed.
- If you are separating/seeking a divorce, and you and your partner are on amicable terms, it will be beneficial to reach an agreement concerning how the assets will be split before you approach a solicitor.
- The solicitor can then arrange the legal documentation to ensure this agreement happens.
- If you find that you have to go to court, the court will expect each partner to be open about all their financial arrangements.
- It is important to note that if you are not on amicable terms with your partner/family member, and cannot resolve this issue, it is highly advisable to seek the advice of a specialist solicitor.
- Refusal by a partner to continue financially supporting shared children or household utility bills, because the other partner has asked for a divorce.
If you are unsure about your family’s finances, and what happens if you are thinking of separating or divorcing, it is best to seek advice. We are experienced and empathetic family law experts, so can help.