During a divorce, people often make the mistake of assuming all assets will be divided equally between the two parties. However, this is not necessarily the case.
When it comes to divorce and finance, the division of property, investments, savings, etc. is very important. Many different factors must be considered in order to decide how assets will be divided and, ultimately, this is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Within a divorce, there are two key types of assets – matrimonial and non-matrimonial assets. Exactly what will be considered to fall into either category will very much depend on the circumstances.
Within this article we will cover:
- What are matrimonial assets?
- What are non-matrimonial assets?
- What will be considered a matrimonial asset in divorce?
- How to protect non-matrimonial assets in a divorce
What are matrimonial assets?
When people talk about matrimonial assets, they are generally referring to any financial assets that have been acquired by either party since pre-marriage cohabitation (the time you spent living together before marriage).
Assets that might be classed as matrimonial assets, depending on the circumstances, could include things like:
- The family home
- Possessions, for example cars, furniture, or electronics.
It is also important to note that any property brought before a marriage that was purchased specifically to be the family home is considered a matrimonial asset, as is any furniture brought for this property.
Additionally, for marriages over 10 years old, all assets are considered matrimonial, unless there is a pre or post-nuptial agreement stating otherwise.
During a divorce what happens to matrimonial assets?
The aim during a divorce is to find a financial settlement that both parties consider fair, but this is not always an easy task.
How matrimonial assets are divided in a divorce is incredibly hard to predict. It depends completely on the unique circumstance in each individual case and can be affected by a huge range of factors like:
- An individual’s income
- The future earning capacity of each spouse
- What other assets there are
- The reasonable needs of both parties
For matrimonial assets, it does not matter who originally purchased or earned the asset. In the eyes of the court, anything may be divided in a financial settlement.
What are non-matrimonial assets?
Assets may be considered non-matrimonial assets if they were acquired by either spouse before they got married or after they separated.
What is considered a non-matrimonial asset will vary from case to case, but they can theoretically include things like:
- Property purchased under your sole name
- Family businesses
- Valuable possessions
- Personal savings
If these assets blended together with your spouse’s assets during your marriage, it can be difficult to determine exactly what should be considered a non-matrimonial asset. An example of this would be altering your personal property so that it is jointly owned by yourself and your partner.
During a divorce what happens to non-matrimonial assets?
Despite being non-matrimonial assets, it is still possible that a court would deem it necessary to include these assets in the division of finances. In the end, if and how non-matrimonial assets are divided in a divorce will depend on the needs of each party and the particular elements of your specific case.
Because of this, it’s essential that you speak to a solicitor in order to gain a better understanding of your personal circumstances. They will be able to advise you on how your non-matrimonial assets may be affected in a divorce.
What will be considered a matrimonial asset in divorce?
There is no simple answer to this question as it is so dependent on your individual circumstances. You should seek the assistance of a family law solicitor at an early stage as they will be able to assess your case and advise you on what assets may be able to be excluded from a divorce settlement.
How to protect non-matrimonial assets
In order to protect your non-matrimonial assets, you should arrange a meeting with an experienced solicitor as soon as possible.
Having a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement can help to protect non-matrimonial assets in some cases, however these are not legally binding documents and only act as a guideline showing the intentions of both parties in the event of a divorce or separation.
The court is under no obligation to uphold the pre-nup or post-nup and may choose to include any necessary assets in the division of finances.
A solicitor will also be able to assist you to agree a settlement with your spouse wherever possible. This can boost your chances of protecting certain assets as you will retain more control over the details of the division of your finances. Methods such as constructive negotiation, mediation, collaborative law and private financial dispute resolution can all be helpful to achieve this.
Speak to our family law specialists in Bristol, Bath and Bradford-on-Avon
At Sharp Family Law, we have offices in Bath, Bristol and Bradford-on-Avon. Our clients can expect constructive, clear and friendly assistance from our family law and divorce solicitors who will give you all the support you may need.
We understand that divorce can be an incredibly difficult time for those involved. Our team always aim to be sympathetic whilst guiding you through the entire divorce process.
If you need legal assistance when getting a divorce, email us at email@example.com. Or you can call your local office:
- Bath - 01225 448955
- Bristol - 0117 9055 055
- Bradford-on-Avon - 01225 448955