I am often told that a husband or wife is in a new relationship. It is commonly assumed that the ‘’third party’’ will make a massive difference to any financial settlement. That’s not necessarily the case.
New partners are a hot topic when trying to negotiate an agreement on the division of finances after a family separation or during financial Court proceedings. A new partner can cloud judgements and make it harder to set feelings and emotions aside to focus on reaching a reasonable split of the family assets. In my experience, it is often hard for a husband or a wife to put aside thoughts about their spouse having a new partner if they have found out through the backdoor, for example, from children, family friends or, as is often the case, from posts and pictures on social media or from financial disclosure within Court proceedings.
If there is a new partner on the scene the first question, from a solicitors’ point of view, is whether the spouse is living with his or her new partner or if they are at an early stage of a new relationship and not cohabiting. Sometimes there are disputes about whether a couple are living together or not because of the financial consequences of cohabiting. If a spouse is living with a new partner:
- they may find it a lot more difficult to ask for spousal maintenance for themselves;
- they may find that their spouse applies to reduce or stop any existing spousal maintenance payments;
- they may find it harder to argue that they need as much money to rehouse themselves.
It is not uncommon for there to be questions about whether a spouse and his or her new partner is living together as a cohabiting couple because of the potential impact on the financial settlement. There is often an argument that two homes are being maintained by the spouse and the new partner. It is then a case of establishing if, despite the two physical homes, the couple are in reality cohabiting because of the amount of time spent together and the financial links between the two of them.
In some situations it can be in the financial interests of a spouse to say that they do have a new partner they are living with and have taken on financial responsibility for. That is because that may mean they have higher outgoings and therefore an argument to say that they can’t afford to pay as much spousal maintenance each month or they need to spend more on rehousing.
It is important to take objective specialist legal advice on the relevance of a spouse forming a new relationship when sorting out the financial division of property and assets. That’s because a lot of emotional and financial time and energy can be spent on exploring whether a separated spouse is in a new relationship and then whether, in reality, they are cohabiting together .The job of a family finance solicitor is to quickly assess how that new relationship impacts on the financial settlement or the financial Court proceedings. Although a new partner can be a hot topic it can either be a red herring or one of the key factors in negotiating or on the Court deciding how money is divided. The relevance of a new partner all depends on individual family financial and personal circumstances.
For advice on any aspect of divorce or family finances or on varying any existing agreements or Court orders please give me a call on +44 (0) 1625 728012 or email me at [email protected]