When a marriage or civil partnership breaks down, the parties will need to separate out their financial affairs. No two households are the same, and what might be fair for one couple is not necessarily going to be fair for the next. The law has developed a checklist (known as the section 25 criteria) so that matters are considered in the round.
Sharing is not giving back to each party what they owned prior to the marriage, and what they have earnt or acquired during the marriage. To do so would discriminate in favour of the financially stronger party and will inevitably leave the more financially vulnerable party with less. The law takes the view that during a relationship, each couple will allocate the roles and responsibilities of family life in a manner that best suits them. Each role is of equal importance – whether home maker or bread winner; it takes the efforts of both to make the family unit tick.
Absent certain exceptions, generally all assets whether owned in a sole name or jointly, will form part of the matrimonial pot and be available to meet the parties’ respective needs.
Sharing rarely means 50:50. If both parties need a house, but one has a much smaller mortgage capacity than the other, the financially weaker party may take a greater share of the capital. If only one party has a pension, then the party without may take more of the liquid capital in order to fund future financial provision as we have no pension sharing legislation in Jersey.
The process of sharing out a family’s wealth can cause friction and upset. Each party may have very different views as to what is fair. Where parties are struggling to agree, it pays to receive early, clear advice in this highly technical and nuanced area of law from someone who can explain the relevant legal principles in such a way that helps a party understand, and come to terms with, their likely future financial landscape.
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