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Principles of Division of Finances

The court has a wide discretion in how to divide your assets and income.

First consideration must be the needs of any children whilst they are minors. Other factors, amongst others, include:

  • the financial needs and obligations of both of you now and in the foreseeable future
  • how long you have been married (the court will also look at the length of any pre-marriage cohabitation)
  • income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which either of you have or could have
  • your standard of living prior to breakdown of the relationship
  • your ages and any special circumstances
  • contributions which either of you have made to the welfare of the family including a contribution to looking after the home and caring for the family
  • the court will also give consideration to the existence of any pre or post-nuptial agreement.

The court’s ultimate objective is to achieve an outcome that is 'fair' in all the circumstances of the case.

It has been held that there are three core principles which may justify a redistribution of assets: needs (generously interpreted), sharing and compensation.

The 'sharing principle' has developed so that in the majority of cases family assets will be divided equally between the two of you unless a departure from equality is justified on a basis such as the 'need' of one or other of you or for some other good reason.

Careful consideration needs to be given about the treatment of particular categories of assets including, for example, a family businessinherited and pre-acquired assetstrusts and pensions.