Healy O'Connor

How Matrimonial Assets Are Divided In Divorce

Splitting Assets in a Divorce

Divorce in most cases is never a happy process and can be a frustrating and challenging journey. Arriving at this life altering decision is never an easy choice but there are steps that can be taken to ease the pressure, especially when it comes to assets and property.

Even if the breakup of a marriage is in the first instance amicable and by agreement, there comes a time when a division of assets has to be dealt with and where a ‘friendly’ relationship can plunge into a complex and hotly contested issue.

Legally, the sharing of assets aims to divide them fairly, so that both parties are left in a position of equal standing.

Many couples enter this process believing that the value of everything they own should be shared on a 50-50 basis. This is a common misconception. It’s not a rule but generally a starting point.

There are those who are able and willing to apply this division by joint agreement and can walk away from the marriage with minimum legal assistance.

Unfortunately, this is not often the case due to the complexities and number of assets that have to be divided. These days they include much more than just a house, contents and cars. Pensions, investments and inheritances have to be taken into account as well. Equality too is a key issue. The court makes no distinction between the respective roles of breadwinner and home maker and regards them as equals.

Obtaining tailored legal advice at an early stage in the process will help smooth this bumpy road. It will ensure the courts aim of dividing assets fairly and equally particularly if there is no agreement on arrangements on how assets can be divided.

The court has wide discretion in deciding who gets what, so it is far better for matters to be resolved by agreement rather than becoming unpleasant and litigious. It is worth noting that unless there are exceptional circumstances prevailing, claims of bad behaviour by either party will have little bearing. Whilst blame is not an issue for the court, the spouses’ general conduct during the marriage may be looked into.

What if an Agreement Cannot be Made?

We might recommend mediation as a means of solving this problem which may also help prevent the divorce from taking longer than average of 14 months to complete.

Mediation can be particularly preferable and favourable for both parties and using a mediation solicitor will give both parties the choice of how issues are settled by identifying the most important issues without a judgement being put in place.

In the event that mediation is unsuccessful, there are a number of complex issues that need to be taken into consideration by the courts which include future financial resources, duration of the marriage, lifestyle and also the accommodation needs required by both spouses after the process of separation.

Obtaining correct and sound legal advice can pay dividends mentally and financially in turbulent times.

Healy O’Connor Solicitors recognise the importance of family breakdown and are on hand to guide you at a time when you need it the most.

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