Q. I have recently discovered that my husband is having an affair. We have been married for 25 years and have two grown up children. We both work full time and we own our home, which is free of borrowing. We have no other assets. He wants the house to be sold so that he can start again with his new partner. Given that his affair caused the breakdown of our marriage, do I have to agree this? Am I not entitled to more from the assets because of his behaviour?
A. Whilst you will need to allege ‘fault’ on the part of your husband to obtain a divorce without waiting for a period of at least 2 years, this will not affect finances in any way. Conduct will only be taken into account in so far as a financial settlement is concerned where the actions of one party are very extreme, or where they have tried to hide assets or spend money to stop the other party benefitting. Adultery will not be a consideration.
The Court will identify each party’s assets and liabilities and will also look at earnings. The starting point is an equal division of net assets. Where minor children are involved their welfare will be a priority. In your case, with no young children and equal earnings, it is likely that a Judge would order that the house be sold and the proceeds split equally between you and your husband. Alternatively, if eligible, one or other of you could look to take a mortgage to pay to the other their share of the equity in the property to avoid a sale.
In the interim you should consider making a Will (you will need to check how the beneficial interests in the house are held) and reviewing any joint bank accounts.
(Article published 27/02/2017)