News and Events

What Am I Entitled to in a Divorce?

  • Posted

A divorce can be incredibly challenging for everyone involved. From the emotional strain to conflict around childcare and the uncertainty regarding the division of assets, there are often a lot of thorny issues to unpick. Of these, the financial side of things is often the part separating couples find most daunting.

You and your ex-partner may be happy to divide any property, finances and other assets that you own privately. However, to ensure you get what you are entitled to during a divorce, it’s important that you speak to a divorce solicitor.

Some divorces can involve a 50/50 split and that is the theoretical starting point under the law. However, in reality dividing financial assets is rarely that straightforward. You must take into account each person’s assets and reasonable needs as well as those of any children to truly understand what you are entitled to in a divorce.

How are financial assets divided during a divorce?

This will depend on personal circumstances and the amount of conflict between the couple during a divorce. Some people are able to privately come to an agreement without needing to go to court. However, others will need to rely on the court to ensure the division is fair.

Division of financial assets will need to include all of each spouse’s assets, including:

  • The marital home
  • Pensions
  • Investments and savings
  • Business assets
  • Inherited assets
  • Trusts
  • Overseas assets

Whether you make a decision amicably or rely on a court, various issues must be considered to ensure the settlement is fair. Key things that will need to be factored in are covered below in under ‘What circumstances will the court take into consideration?’. What a court would look at is often a good starting point for negotiating a financial settlement privately.

How can you reach a divorce settlement amicably?

There are a number of common methods that are used to negotiate divorce settlements. These include:

Private negotiation – where you and your spouse agree between you how to divide your assets. You should always have such an agreement checked by a solicitor before the agreement is finalised.

Round the table meeting – You, your spouse and your respective lawyers meet to negotiate a settlement. This can be done in one session or over a number of meetings.

Mediation – This involves a series of meetings with a trained, neutral mediator. They act as an independent third party to help facilitate negotiating a settlement while avoiding unnecessary conflict.

Arbitration – This involves agreeing to let a trained arbitrator decide how your assets should be divided. Arbitration is a bit like going to court in that each side will get to make submissions that the arbitrator will use to make their decision. However, arbitration is generally much faster and less costly than court proceedings. It is also entirely private.

What happens if you apply to a court for financial remedy?

After making a financial remedy application to the court, you will most likely have to attend three hearings. The first is a directions hearing, the second will focus on dispute resolution and the third is the final contested hearing. 

These hearings will give the court the time to consider the couple’s situation and take into account any assets involved. After this, the court has the power to make a variety of orders, including:

  1. The payment of a lump sum. This may be in exchange for a share of a property or even to avoid any future spousal maintenance.
  2. The sale or transfer of property. The court may order the couple to sell their property and divide the net proceeds in a particular way or even transfer ownership of the property to an individual.
  3. Pension sharing order. A percentage of an individual’s pension may need to be transferred to the other.
  4. Spousal maintenance. If spousal maintenance is needed, a fee is paid from one party member to another for a fixed period or until they are remarried.

What circumstances will the court take into consideration?

When examining the division of finances during a divorce, the court will have to consider many things to ensure this is fair for all parties. These guidelines are clearly established within Section 25 of the Matrimonial Cause Act 1973 and cover everything from earning capacity to mental and physical disabilities, this includes the following:

Income and earning capacity

When dividing assets and finances, the court will take into account not only the income of both parties but also their individual earning capacity. This will include any property owned, the likelihood of an increase in earnings in the future and any other financial recourses that need to be divided.

Financial needs

Considering the financial needs of the divorcing couple requires the court to look at the obligations and financial responsibilities of those involved. For example, a sick relative who will require support or the care of a child.

Standard of living

Another thing considered is the standard of living the family enjoyed before the marriage irretrievably broke down.


The age of each party member is also taken into consideration, as is the duration of the marriage.


Any physical or mental disabilities that the divorcing couple may have are also considered by the court. By doing so, any additional needs, future medical expenses or care can be accounted for.

Contributions of the individuals

It is also important for the court to look at the contributions that each party has made to improve the welfare of the family. This includes but is not limited to home maintenance and childcare.

The individuals’ conduct

Another consideration that will be made is based on the overall conduct of each individual. In some cases, conduct plays a major part in the distribution of finances.

By using these guidelines, the court is able to establish a fair division that takes into account the needs and assets of both parties.

How can you protect your assets in divorce?

During a divorce, many people look for ways to protect their assets. It is important to realise that you are legally required to provide full financial disclosure during divorce, so you should never try to hide or dispose of assets in an attempt to protect them.

To safely protect your assets during a divorce, we advise:

Having a pre or postnuptial agreement.

A pre or postnuptial agreement can help to clearly say what, if anything, a spouse is entitled to in the event of a divorce. This can allow you to protect your pre-marital assets and any business interests.  

Getting in touch with specialist divorce and family law solicitors.

Reaching a financial settlement through mediation or collaborative law is one of the best ways to protect your assets within a divorce. By reaching an amicable solution that works for both parties, many couples are able to protect their personal assets.

Divorce solicitors are also able to negotiate on your behalf, find hidden assets and provide support that will help protect your property, assets and finances.

How can a solicitor help with a divorce financial settlement?

A divorce solicitor can be invaluable when handling divorce finances. They can give you a good idea of what to expect, help you navigate the process and reach a fair settlement.

Some of the benefits of consulting a divorce solicitor include:

  • Giving you a general idea of what a fair settlement would look like in your situation.
  • Ensuring you understand the process and know what to expect.
  • Helping you to negotiate with your ex-partner in order to agree on a fair division of finances and property, as well as resolving any disputes.
  • Preparing you for court, if necessary, and ensuring you have any necessary documents you may need.
  • Helping you reach a conclusion quickly whether you choose to divide finances privately or in court.
  • Making you much more likely to secure the best possible result.

Get in touch with our family law solicitors today

To speak to one of our family law solicitors today, please ring 0208 680 5018 or contact your local Atkins Hope office in CroydonMedwayBlackheath or Guildford.