Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Want a share of your spouse's premarital asset?

The High Court has ruled that a wife cannot have a bigger slice of her husband's wealth as reported in The Telegraph

What is the position with regard to pre marital assets?

The answer is:

Not clear.

This case has taken into account assets brought to the marriage and the judge has decided that the husband can keep £1 million. This is on the basis that the wife does not need it and it is fair. This is a case I will be quoting a lot and it gives a good summary of the recent approach taken by the Court's to pre marital property.

The longer the marriage and the more the assets have merged the less likely a claim to disregard is to being successful.

Each case is decided on it's own facts. Pre marital assets are not ringfenced in England and Wales. The Court will consider whether they should be a reason to depart from equal division of total assets on the basis of contribution.

An argument against this is need - If the other spouse can show that they need a share of the pre marital acquest then the Court will take this into account in apportioning the assets.

It is crucial to obtain good legal advice in the preparation of financial documents for disclosure and to have a great advocate represent you in Court.

Exaggerating your needs will be discounted by the Court and parties may well be criticised for doing so. Changing your mind part way through a case is a difficult one to pull off as well so it is important to get good advice early.

I know of a mother who cut her costs so low to fund the mortgage on the former matrimonial home for her and her four children that the Court refused to order a maintenance claim and ordered a sale of the house as the husband needed better accommodation to have the children stay overnight. She was unrepresented in Court and he had a good legal team behind him.

Even with good representation people can still feel aggrieved that the legal system is unfair... unfortunately it can be a whole lot worse for others

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