Financial Settlement After Divorce
A split can have a devastating emotional impact on both parties. What should never be overlooked no matter how easy the temptation, is to consider the financial needs of both spouses and the children. No case is ever the same. There is no set formula for division of income and assets. This is a complex area in which we can help you straight away, because Stowe Family Law has a particularly strong track record in this area.
A financial settlement on divorce will be tailored first to meet a couple’s reasonable needs. A settlement is only very rarely affected by marital misconduct:- adultery is not a basis for increasing a financial settlement. All the income and assets of the parties must be quantified and decisions made on the future requirements of both spouses and their children.
Agreements can be reached about the division of all assets such as a home or homes, business interests, investments in companies, pensions, trusts, offshore assets, and both parties’ incomes including future earnings. Financial settlements should be flexible and fair to both sides. Payment of spousal maintenance, child support, lump sums, transfers of property, share transfers and pension sharing will follow an agreement or court order. Stowe family law review all of these areas with input from both family lawyers and forensic accountants.
Negotiating a financial settlement in divorce is a skilled and complex task. There is no set formula for an asset split, spousal maintenance and child support in each case will be resolved depending on its own facts and figures. The law is ever evolving in its interpretation and application but it will come down to one simple question. What is a fair split for this particular couple and their children? How much do they both reasonably need going forward and how should the income and assets be fairly shared between them?
In most cases the assets are easily identified and valued, income disclosed, expenditure budgets and capital needs for both parties determined going forward. Ultimately usually after negotiation, an agreement is reached. Difficulties can arise particularly in more complex cases;- such as where the assets are located, what they are really worth if disputed, whether they are regarded in law as “matrimonial” or “ non matrimonial,” eg whether they have been earned prior to the marriage, after the separation, or come from family gifts or inheritances; to what extent all assets should be shared and in what proportions; whether assets are liquid and easily realisable and whether there are enough assets to fund a clean break without continuing spousal maintenance.
Some cases involving high net worth individuals involve interests in differing types of trusts, both onshore and offshore, and interests in a web of companies, whether formed before or after the marriage and offshore assets which are not easily realisable even with an English court order. In complex assets cases, the case might begin with a discussion as to which country will provide the best solution and if in England, an injunction and other action could be taken to protect the status quo until the case is resolved.
In all cases, the English court will require full and frank disclosure on the part of both parties, to each other and to the court as part of the initial process. All the income and assets of the parties will be taken into account, including in more complex cases, interests in companies, trusts, pensions, properties, income distribution from all sources, on and offshore assets, contents and valuables.
It is imperative to assess not only the immediate short-term impact a split will have including if necessary payment of litigation funding, spousal and child maintenance but also as the case progresses to consider the longer term future needs of both spouses and children by reference to their standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. If there are sufficient assets to sever all ties, a “clean break” solution may be the outcome. Even then there is no formula for a clean break. A 50/50 division may only be a starting point. If a clean break is not possible, continuing maintenance may be a possibility, whether for life or until re-marriage or such period as may be agreed or ordered by the court.
Sometimes in view of the emotions involved in marital breakdown, there is a reluctance to give disclosure or the assets may be deliberately hidden or undervalued. Sometimes assets are not disclosed at all. This is where our forensic accountancy team comes in. It is unusual for a family law firm to have in-house forensic accountants: our specialist team, headed by Nick White, has been featured in the Financial Times and its services are prized by Stowe Family Law clients. This is because when clients come to see us for the first time, we can provide immediate advice about the likely scale and nature of a case.
Our forensic accountants can also provide advice about the likely value of a client’s business, shareholding, investments, trust interests, for the purpose of a divorce. They can also advise as to how a company, property or trust asset might be made available to fund a divorce settlement.
At Stowe Family Law, we have highly experienced solicitors in all our offices who specialise in complex or high net worth cases and all our solicitors understand how to approach a case from the perspective of the bread winner and the home maker.
In all cases we do our best to resolve your case whether by negotiation, mediation, collaboration or arbitration, working alongside other highly skilled professionals such as barristers, valuers, and counsellors as appropriate. There will be some cases where the court room will be necessary; you should not be afraid to litigate.
Your well being is our overall concern and our firm’s reputation has been forged over a solid 30 year period, during which we have grown to become the Largest Specialist Family Law Firm in the country, and described by the Daily Telegraph as a “Legal force of nature”.
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