How do you know what will be considered your property or joint property when you go through the process of divorce?

Do you own property which you believe your spouse should not be entitled to when you separate?

The lack of legal definition of ‘non-matrimonial’ property is an issue in many financial remedy cases and this has led to two groups of case law on the issue in recent years.

In a historical case the Court took a ‘scientific’ approach. It said that the court ‘must first identify the whole matrimonial pot, and within that how much constitutes both matrimonial and non-matrimonial assets’. The scale of the non-matrimonial property to be excluded is then identified, leaving just the matrimonial property to be divided according to the equal sharing principle. Therefore, the court looked at all assets but then having looked at them considered which of those assets it could remove as being non-matrimonial and away from the hands of the other spouse.

In a more recent case the Court instead favoured the ‘artistic’ approach, which took a more discretionary broad brush approach. If there is property which is not a result of the marriage the whole matrimonial pot is adjusted from the 50:50 starting point and an appropriate percentage shift is taken to reflect the existence of non-matrimonial property in that case. The potential problem with this approach is that the outcome of a case depends on the discretionary intuitive feel of your Judge and creates a risk of inconsistency.

The above highlights the risk that families can face when asking the Court to deal with matrimonial and non-matrimonial assets. It is ever the more essential that you instruct a knowledgeable lawyers who is specialist in the field of matrimonial finance law. We are on hand to assist you. Contact 0161 926 1430 or caroline.swain@bpsfamilylaw.co.uk.

We have offices in Manchester City Centre, Hale Cheshire and Stockton Heath, Warrington.