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Financial disclosure

Men or Women: Who gets the best deal from the courts?

In recent years the family law courts have dramatically changed their attitude towards what each spouse is entitled to upon divorce. Previously the spouse of a wealthy, high earner would normally expect to have their reasonable needs (housing and income) taken care of, leaving the wealthy party (usually the husband) with the vast majority of their assets. However, the courts have made it very clear that such an approach is wrong and there is now a presumption of equality when dividing assets between divorcing parties.

So why is there is a general conception that equality does not prevail and courts these days favour wives by giving them more of the assets upon divorce? This is not the correct way to view the situation. The courts’ priority will always be the welfare of minor children and what often follows on from this is that if one parent (frequently the wife) has primary care of the children then their needs will be taken care of as a priority. Often this results in the wife receiving more of the plot of assets if this is needed for housing or other essential purposes.

There is nothing in principle to prevent this approach working in favour of husbands if they happen to be the primary carer of the children.

If there are no children involved then it is more likely that the courts will adhere to the resumption that the matrimonial assets should be divided equally, unless there is a very good reason otherwise. This is especially so where the matrimonial assets have all been built up during the marriage. If one party, regardless of whether this is the husband or the wife, brings significant assets into a marriage then, in theory, such assets do not form part of the matrimonial pot of assets and not be subject to division.

Peter Howe

30TH APRIL 2012

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