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Divorce and division of assets: Where to begin

divorce and finances

In the first of a series of short articles looking at the financial matters arising out of a divorce, Susannah Burley of our Family Law team looks at what happens at the very start. Next in the series will be negotiations and Consent Orders.

When going through a divorce or separation it isn’t as easy as a couple merely going their separate ways. Couples or individuals will usually have built up assets during the marriage or civil partnership that will need to be divided. This may include a home, savings, pensions and investments.

The starting point for the Court in England and Wales is that assets should be split 50:50. The purpose of this is to ensure both parties’ contributions to the marriage and the assets are considered. A 50:50 split does not have to mean half of every asset.

There is no set formula as to how assets should be divided as the Court can to make Orders to ensure the assets are split appropriately. This may mean one person keeping a greater proportion of their pension and cash assets and the other keeping more than half of the value of the matrimonial home.

The first step for divorcing couples is to provide full and frank disclosure of all of their personal assets and liabilities. This must happen before you can be properly advised as to how the assets are likely to be divided.

This is done by filling out a Form E. At first glance, this lengthy form may seem daunting, but not all of the sections will be relevant to everyone. We at KWW can help you work through the form and explain any sections that do not seem clear. We can also provide you with an example budget sheet which will help you work out what your monthly expenditure is.

We recommend seeking advice as early as possible when completing the Form E as some of information needed may take a while to obtain if coming from a third party, such as a pension provider.

Along with the Form E you will also need to provide supporting documentation, which may include but will not be limited to:

  • Property valuations
  • Bank statements (for the preceding 12 months)
  • Savings and investment valuations
  • Other assets
  • Pension valuations
  • P60s, payslips or tax returns.

It is important to be honest and transparent on your Form E. Lying in your financial statement could be treated as contempt of court and is punishable by imprisonment or a fine under the Fraud Act 2006.

It is also worth noting that your duty to disclose your financial position does not end once the Form E is completed. If proceedings go on for some time, you will have to disclose your financial circumstances as and when they change.

Once your Form E is complete, it will be reviewed by your solicitor to ensure all the information is correctly inserted. Once your partner has completed their Form, the solicitors will simultaneously exchange them.

Your solicitor will then review your partner’s financial circumstances and advise you how assets should be split and what sort of Order you should be seeking.

Our next article will consider the negotiation stage and Consent Orders. This happens after Forms E have been exchanged and all parties have a clear idea of the assets.

If you would like urgent advice on any aspect of divorce and separation, contact Susannah or David Anstee. KWW offers a fixed-price initial consultation to help you better understand what may lie ahead.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

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