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Radio 4 Moneybox: money and relationships

Like the Today programme and Woman’s Hour, Moneybox is one of the Radio 4 fixtures which have lodged themselves firmly in the national consciousness.

For those who have never tuned in, the show is a weekly look at the world of personal finance. I appeared on today’s episode to discuss that perennial hot button topic, money and couples. Pounds and pence can cause rows and friction in even the happiest of relationships.

Presenter Ruth Alexander took calls from listeners, prompted by recent research from Relate highlighting the effect on relationships of financial hardship. I offered answers to the questions which came in, along with fellow guests Anita Monteith, Rachael Kelsey and Dennis Hussey. Anita is a representative of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, Rachael is a family lawyer from Edinburgh, and Dennis is an advisor from the National Debtline.

It was a lively discussion which covered a lot of ground.

In response to a question from a man who has got back together with his indebted ex-wife, I stressed the importance distinction to be made between moving back in together and remarrying. The latter could have a substantial effect on the couple’s finances as joint liability for her debts would become an issue. I advised him to consider this carefully before any return visit to the registry office.

Another question came in from a woman who is going through a divorce. While her husband has a business, she described herself as ‘unmortgageable’.

In such cases, the court has to consider, first of all, the reasonable needs of both parties but particularly the party that has the child or children. Obviously the priority lies with them and the court can look at all of the marital assets and divide them up fairly. As the financially dependent party in the relationship, her housing and income needs would certainly be a major consideration in the settlement. The matrimonial house would not necessary have to be sold. Depending on the circumstances, she may be able to continue living there, with her ex-husband contributing towards the outgoings.

He would certainly be required to contribute to her income and to pay any child support. The court has the power to ensure that the needs of the dependent partner are fully met from the available marital assets. Any capital gain received by the husband as a result of the divorce settlement could be deferred and would in any case be secondary to provision for the needs of the dependent partner and her children.

The questions kept coming! I hope my input proved helpful to everyone who called in.

The programme is currently available on BBC iPlayer here.

The founder of Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known family law solicitors and divorce lawyers. She retired from Stowe Family Law in 2017.

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