Sharing Assets on Divorce - Parties Contribution

21st September 2017

It has often been the case that when one party brings to the marriage substantial assets or introduces substantial assets that have not stemmed directly from marital endeavours such as assets stemming from inheritance, then that party can under some circumstances claim a greater share of the overall marital assets.  That is the case even if those assets have been put into joint names during the marriage.However, the amount of credit the court will give to a party in these circumstances has often depended on the length of the marriage and other issues such as whether there are any children.   It has been a long held belief that in a lengthy marriage, the assets each party had prior to marriage will make little difference and in most cases there will be a fairly equitable division.However, in a recent case the Court of Appeal has upheld the decision of the original trial judge, which awarded just over a third of the assets of a marriage to a wife in a case when the parties had been married for 23 years on the basis that the husband had brought a substantial amount of wealth with him into the marriage.Again, it has long been thought that the domestic contribution of one party in bringing up children, looking after the home and family etc. is equal to a financial contribution of the other party.  This judgement may undermine that belief.This judgement could promote the rise in pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements because many parties hitherto believed that such an agreement would make little difference, especially in longer marriages.  However, given the findings in this case, such agreements could be used to show what parties have brought to the marriage with them.In the case concerned there were more than enough assets to meet both parties’ needs post- divorce.  In cases where there isn’t enough to go round, the case will actually make little difference, as meeting the basic needs of both parties, whatever the source of wealth, is the paramount consideration of the court.

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