Q: My husband and I have agreed to get a divorce after 25 years of marriage, however he keeps threatening me by saying that he will make sure that I am left with nothing. I only work part time, whereas my husband works full time in a much better paid job. How can I protect myself?
A: Firstly, agreeing a financial settlement is a separate process to other aspects of divorce, including the petitioning of the divorce and matters involving children. Before the court can put in place a financial order you must have obtained a Decree Nisi, which is a certificate issued halfway through divorce proceedings that confirms you are legally entitled to divorce.
When considering what financial order is made, the Court must consider what is ‘fair’ for both parties, with the starting point being a 50/50 split. It is not simply a case of who owns what, so if your husband has more assets, it does not entitle him to more money.
Under s25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 the courts will then consider other factors, the first of which is always the welfare of any children. Next, they will consider the income and earning capacity of each party, together with their financial dependencies, obligations and responsibilities. Standard of living enjoyed, duration of the marriage, physical or mental disabilities, age of each party, actual and potential contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family, and also conduct, are other considerations.
The courts will try to obtain the fairest outcome for both parties and ensure that both parties retain a similar standard of living. Given the significant length of your marriage, the Court is likely stay near a 50/50 split, because finances become more intertwined throughout a longer marriage.
Due to the complexity of financial settlements, you should seek legal advice before agreeing to any settlement.
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