Matrimonial Assets: the Before and the After

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When resolving a dispute about matrimonial assets on separation and divorce, the basic starting point is that of meaningful disclosure on both sides. It regularly comes as an unwanted surprise to our clients to be asked about not just the assets generated during the marriage, but those items secured before the marriage and those achieved in the separation period.  Much will depend upon any subsequent growth of the asset within the marriage (when pre-acquired) or after separation (where post-acquired) and how that was reached. It is for the law to jump in and assist as to that which can be ring-fenced and or not. Additional evidence such as agreements, trusts, and declarations can be helpful in distinguishing the true intention behind the existence of an asset and thereby how it should be treated.

The ”needs” of the parties are crucial and s.25 of Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 guides us here. The cases of Hart v. Hart (2017) and Waggott v. Waggott (2018) emphasise the Court’s discretion when looking at various assets. The baseline is that where a party’s needs cannot be met without recourse to the disputed asset in question, it can be treated as being part of “the pot”. As with most areas of the law, we, as lawyers, advise as to general principles, but also on a case-by-case basis, as the outcome of a matter will turn on its unique facts. What is important to one client may be of no concern to another.

Our Family law team of Jackie Mensah and Sarah Pennicott look forward to helping you protect and preserve that which is important to you and your family, so do contact us for an initial conversation, in confidence on 01903 229914.

Disclaimer: Please note that this update is not intended to be exhaustive or be a substitute for legal advice. The application of the law in this area will often depend upon the specific facts and you are advised to seek specific advice on any given scenario.