Is 50/50 always fair in a divorce settlement?
Splitting your assets (and your debts) when you decide to divorce can feel overwhelming. However, a few simple steps can help make things clearer and reduce the stress and strain on your emotions. If you’re feeling daunted by sorting out your finances, this blog will help you understand how to share assets in a divorce.
How to split assets in a divorce
Start with the big picture
It’s worth bearing in mind that most people must accept a change in lifestyle when they divorce. Rarely is there enough money to go around so compromise is the all-important word. Setting realistic goals for where you want to be after your divorce and avoiding an entitlement mindset will help you stay more amicable.
Setting realistic goals means creating a picture of what you want the future to look like, If you have children, this will ideally have your kids at the center of it – starting with how you intend to each look after any children and where you will all live. Try and agree on the big-picture principals with your ex before moving onto the detailed steps below.
Work out the details
- Make a list of all your assets and debts – you can do this on a simple spreadsheet.
- Show your partner evidence such as bank statements to make your finances transparent
- Find out the value of your pensions (request a Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV) from your pension provider/s) – This can take up to three months with some pensions so request it early
- Work out what income you each earn (don’t forget to add in any benefits or rental income)
- Work out how much money you will need to live on in the future (look at your outgoings). If your income doesn’t cover your outgoings investigate benefits you may be entitled to, spousal support or cutting back if that’s possible
- Check if you are entitled to tax credits
- Think about how and when you will return to work to support yourself if you’re not currently working. What sort of wage or salary do you think you can earn?
- Calculate any child maintenance you think you might be due (you can do this on the child maintenance service website)
What the law says
Once you have gathered all your information and shared it with your partner, talk to them about how you want to split things. Try and have options rather than a single proposal. It’s worth remembering, the law does not have a defined formula for dividing assets.
To make fair agreements, you must think about what the courts in England & Wales take into consideration; the needs of any children, your financial needs, your earning capacity, the contribution you have made (staying at home to raise children counts equally to earning money outside of the home), the length of the marriage, and your age and any health considerations.
The starting pointing is a 50/50 split. But if one of you has a greater need, for example, because you are housing the children or earn a lot less, then the split may be different.
Protecting yourselves with a consent order
If you have assets to divide such as property or pensions you should consider having consent order. A consent order is a document explaining how you have split your assets that is legally binding. It usually contains a ‘clean break clause’ which means you cannot come back for more in the future. It’s worth having a clean break consent order even if you don’t have assets so that any your build up in the future (or inherit) are protected, Just getting divorced without a consent order won’t protect you from your ex from making a claim against you in the future.
Need some support?
Sorting out your finances yourself is completely possible and so is getting support to finalise your split with little expense. But, sometimes going to court is unavoidable if one person won’t cooperate. If your partner is hiding or disposing of assets or being abusive (or similar) it’s best to seek the help of a lawyer (we can recommend one).
If you’d like to get started on an amicable financial settlement but need help to move forward, amicable provides the following tools and divorce-diagnostic to help you navigate agreeing on a fair financial split with your ex.
Book a free 15-minute call with one of our experts here.
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Hi We separated and sold our property 10 years ago, splitting the money 50/50 & closing our joint account.We got back together several times over the decade& have lived together sharing bills but otherwise keeping all our assets, accounts separate. Now we want to divorce and just keep our own assets. We don’t want anything from each other. Is this problematic? Or will this be acceptable to the court? Any advice much appreciated.