There is no rule or law that says money and assets should be divided equally on divorce but it is often the starting point for many couples. Even with the introduction of no-fault divorce from 6 April 2022 the courts will continue to look at the factors set out section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, legislation that was introduced almost half a century ago! But how will the change of emphasis away from blame change the way the courts decide financial settlements in contested cases?
Section 25 of the 1973 Act sets out the factors that are taken into account by the court when making a decision. These including:
- The welfare of any children under the age of 18 (this should be the primary consideration amongst these factors).
- 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.
- 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.
Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements will be taken into account as well if these are properly drafted and implement.
Based on our experience of contested cases if blame no longer features in the evidence, will financial settlements favour the party that may be behaved unreasonably in future?
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