Share and share alike? Part 3 of 3: non-matrimonial assets

When dividing up possessions formerly shared between you and your partner, the court distinguishes between matrimonial and non-matrimonial assets. As we have seen in Parts one and two, these are not separate groups. They fall along a spectrum of ownership, from things that you have acquired over the course of your relationship and have always been used together and considered as belonging to you both, to things that have always been yours or your partner’s, which you have never shared.

The latter are the most obvious non-matrimonial assets. You and your partner may have owned assets prior to your marriage, such as property that you have never lived in together, or an inheritance that has been kept separate from accounts held in joint names or money used for family purposes.

The boundaries are very rarely this distinct, however. Often, one of the crucial factors will be the length of your marriage. The shorter the relationship, the more distinct are assets brought into the marriage, and the more fair it would be to award them to whoever brought them to the marriage. Over time, that distinction is lost as both partners enjoy the benefits of them and they become part of the matrimonial assets. This might be the case, for example, if one of you has inherited a property, which then becomes used as the marital home.

So how you have treated your assets will have a bearing on what the judge decides. The court will also consider the standard of living enjoyed by you both during your marriage and the expectation that this standard will be available, as far as possible, to both parties after the divorce. Any existing prenuptial agreement will also be considered, as this is a crucial document agreed by you both as to how assets should be divided, should you split up. It identifies pre-marital assets and sets out clearly the financial position of both parties prior to the marriage.

No two cases are the same. If you have any questions or doubts about your own circumstances, you should take legal advice. At Andrew Isaacs Solicitors you can get straight-talking advice and clear explanations on financial remedies procedures, and what you might or might not be entitled to when you get divorced. We will help you to complete the necessary forms and we will always fight to get the best outcome for you.