When you are contemplating a divorce, you want to know what a wife is entitled to in a divorce settlement. In this blog, our divorce solicitors answer your questions on divorce financial settlements and entitlements.
A wife’s entitlement to a divorce settlement
After no-fault divorce proceedings are started a husband or wife can start financial proceedings in the family court for a financial court order to provide them with a divorce settlement.
The divorce court has the power to make a range of financial court orders, including:
- Spousal maintenance
- Payment of a lump sum
- Sale of the family home and division of the equity in it
- Transfer of the family home from joint names or one spouse’s sole name to the other spouse
- Sale or transfer of investments
- Sale or transfer of shares in a family business
- Pension sharing
In limited circumstances, the court can also make child support orders, such as top-up child support or payment of school fees.
In every application for a financial court order, the court has the power to make all or some of these orders in favour of either a husband or wife. The court decision isn’t based on gender but on a range of statutory factors. These are referred to as the section 25 criteria by divorce solicitors.
What will a wife get as a divorce settlement?
What a wife will get as a divorce settlement depends on the section 25 factors. In the UK there is no statutory formula to say that the wife gets the family home or the husband keeps his pension or business. Instead, divorce solicitors have to look at all the circumstances and the section 25 criteria.
If a couple has dependent children, then the divorce settlement will be shaped by the children’s needs. That’s because section 25 factors say that the court’s first concern should be the welfare of those dependent children and how their needs will be met. If the children will continue to live with the wife, then the children and wife will need a house to live in and enough income either via the wife’s salary or child support or spousal maintenance (or a combination of the three) to pay the outgoings on their family home and other reasonable expenditure.
The section 25 criteria
The section 25 criteria are:
- The income, earning capacity, property, and other financial resources that each of the parties to the marriage has, or is likely to have in the foreseeable future. This includes in the case of earning capacity, any increase in that capacity which it would, in the opinion of the court, be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire
- The financial needs, obligations, and responsibilities that each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
- The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage
- The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage
- Any physical or mental disability of either the husband or wife
- The contributions made by the husband or wife or likely to be made in the foreseeable future to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family
- The conduct of the husband or wife if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it
- The value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit (for example, a pension) which, by reason of the end of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring
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Applying the section 25 criteria to work out the divorce settlement
A divorce solicitor is experienced in advising on how the section 25 criteria may apply to your circumstances and explaining about the range of likely orders. That expert advice can then help you reach an agreed divorce settlement either through solicitor negotiations or in family mediation. The divorce solicitor can then help you convert your agreement into a binding financial court order.
Without knowing about your financial and personal circumstances a divorce solicitor can’t advise you on the likely range of orders as the background information is crucial to the outcome of the divorce settlement. The information will involve financial disclosure as, for example, you will need to know the value of the family business or if there is a trust fund or an additional pension. If a spouse is not willing to give financial disclosure voluntarily it may be necessary to apply to the court for a financial court order as the family court can make disclosure orders as part of the financial application process.
The divorce settlement process
Our divorce solicitors understand that it is frustrating when a divorce solicitor will not give you what you think should be a straight answer to your question about what a wife will get as their divorce entitlement. That’s because the answer varies on the information you give us about your family circumstances. For example, a wife who has been married 20 years may be entitled to half of all the assets (sometimes over 50%) but a wife married for 12 months, and who signed a prenuptial agreement before her marriage, may end up with a very modest divorce settlement.
The first step in sorting out a divorce settlement is speaking to a specialist divorce solicitor to understand the information they need and how it applies to your situation.