We understand that divorce is not easy; it brings with it such issues as how jointly owned assets and savings will be divided.

Throughout your marriage you and your partner may accrue houses, savings and pensions and other jointly owned assets. The question is – how do you divide these in a way which is fair to both parties whilst meeting the needs of any children of the family?

Burn & Co solicitors can help you answer that question. Our lawyers can advise you in relation to what assets are included in the ‘matrimonial pot’ and what is taken into consideration to ensure that the division of this pot is fair whilst accommodating the needs of dependent children.

We understand that businesses and business assets may be included in the matrimonial pot and parties may need to seek the protection of these assets where possible.

So, where do you begin?

The starting point for reaching any financial agreement is to know what assets you have. This can include:

• The home you live in and other properties owned by you;

• Overseas property;

• Your savings;

• Shares and investments;

• Oversees savings and investments;

• Your business and the assets within this;

• Pensions;

• Inheritances and Trusts in which you have an interest.

• Any jointly owned property; savings and assets.

Solicitors will often ask you to prepare certain documents to help evidence the above and this is known as ‘full and frank financial disclosure’ and throughout discussions or during Court proceedings, this will be exchanged with the other side so that each party is aware of what the other party has.

Once both parties have worked out the assets which they own either in their sole name or in joint names they add this to the ‘matrimonial pot’. It is then that division of the whole pot is based on what is known as the ‘yardstick of equality’ when it may be considered fair and appropriate. However, it could be that dividing assets equally may result unfairness for various reasons. In cases such as this, it is fair to ‘depart’ from equality and consider an unequal distribution of the ‘matrimonial pot’. These reasons to depart from equality are given in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and include:

a) Your financial "needs", particularly housing requirements where there are dependent children;

b) The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each you has now or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

c) The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of you has now or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;

d) The standard of living enjoyed by the parties prior to the breakdown of the marriage;

e) The age of the parties and the length of the marriage;

f) Any physical or mental disability of either party to the marriage;

g) Contributions which have been made to the marriage or are likely to be made int eh foreseeable future towards the welfare of the family;

h) The conduct of the parties.

Jointly owned businesses

We understand that your business is your livelihood and that during divorce or separation you may be concerned that you will have to sell your business in order to reach a financial settlement. Your main concern will be how to safeguard this where possible and to retain your income for the future.

Even if you are planning to resolve issues between you and your spouse through negotiation, it would be advisable to speak to one of our expert lawyers to discuss what options are available to you and how to deal with your business in any financial agreement which is reached either through negotiation or through an Order from the Family Courts.

Farming divorces

Divorce within the farming community often involves farms which have been inherited from previous generations and may have been in the family for a very long time. In these types of divorces, selling the farm to divide assets may not be possible, practical nor indeed what either of you would want. However, if you decide not to sell and instead one of you leaves the farm, then the spouse leaving the farm will need a home as part of a fair and reasonable financial settlement taking into account such issues as liquidity of assets and the future housing capital and income needs of both.

Farming divorces are complex and it is advisable to seek the help of our Family Law experts to guide you through this specialist area.

Resolving Matters Away From The Family Court

We aim to resolve matters away from the Family Court where necessary either by negotiation through solicitors correspondence or through the process of Collaborative Family Law.

We can also provide support to clients in the collation of documents to support the snapshot of their financial position which is shared with their spouse and his or her solicitor or legal representative – this is known as full and frank financial disclosure.

Resolving Matters Through the Court Process

We understand that some matters may have to go to the Family Court in order for a decision to be made about the division of the matrimonial assets. If this is the case, we can support clients in preparation for these hearings, offering expert advice at every stage.

Before any application is made to the Court, parties have to attend what is known as a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting). This form of mediation is not an attempt to make parents reconcile. Mediation in this sense is focussed towards helping parents think about the issues that have to be resolved and help them to reach a resolution through discussions with the help of an impartial mediator. If this is not possible or if discussions break down then you will naturally want to seek the help of a solicitor to know what to do next.

With Burn & Co Solicitors we can help in creating a financial settlement or obtaining a financial Order from the Court. Our Family Law Team will explain the process clearly and answer any ques-tions you may have. So for expert, confidential and friendly advice, contact us today.

At Burn & Co Solicitors we explain everything in plain English, answering any questions you may have and making the process easy to understand. We also offer free, initial over-the-phone advice and will explain the estimated costs and timescales involved as soon as we can so you always know what to expect.

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