There are three key principles for addressing financial resolution within marriages and they are needs, sharing, and compensation. The principle of needs is the provision that assets will be divided to meet both parties’ housing and financial needs. The sharing principle is that the matrimonial pot will be divided equally between the parties unless there is a good reason to depart. A parties’ needs are just one of those reasons if those needs are not met on an equal division.
As a general rule, a marriage that has lasted less than five years is considered to be a short-term marriage. Prior to recent case law, the courts have previously suggested that in the case of a short and childless marriage, the sharing principle should be departed from. Instead, the focus of the court should be on the parties’ needs.
Recent case law concerning the financial resolution of short marriages
Recent case law has explored these principles in the context of short marriages. The court found that there should be no differentiation between the commitment of marriage with or without children. The judgment made reference to it being discriminatory for the courts to come to a different conclusion, based on whether or not the parties have children. It was felt that it was not for the court to value the marriage based on whether there were children and that the sharing principle applies in the case of a short, dual career, childless marriage.
The court, in the same case, also considered marital acquest. This means the increase in value of the assets from the start of the marriage or cohabitation, to the time of divorce. This is often used by the courts to calculate what one particular party is entitled to on divorce. It was felt that there was no logical reason to distinguish between an accrual over a short period and an accrual over a longer period.
As a result of this recent case law, parties who are getting divorced after a short marriage without children should be aware that the sharing principle will probably still apply to the marital acquest and will only be departed from in a minority of cases. This is another case that highlights the importance of considering a nuptial agreement, prior to marriage, which would have confirmed the parties’ intentions prior to the breakdown of their relationship. If there are concerns about how assets may be divided upon divorce, regardless of the length of the marriage, then you should seek specialist family law advice.
How can Nelsons help?
If you need advice on divorce, financial settlements or any other family law matter, please contact a member of our expert Family Law team on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form. Our team will be happy to discuss your circumstances in more detail and give you information about the services that our team can provide.Contact Us