Marriage is considered to be an economic partnership as well as an emotional one. This essentially means that whatever one spouse does to positively impact the financial situation is thought to be for the benefit of them both.
Whether assets are matrimonial or non-matrimonial can be a source of conflict when reaching a financial settlement. Matrimonial assets are generally those that accrue during the course of the marriage and non-matrimonial assets conversely are those that are acquired before or after the marriage and have not been mingled during the course of the marriage. For example, an inheritance received post-separation would typically be a non-matrimonial asset. As would an inheritance received during the course of the marriage but kept separate from the parties joint finances.
Whatever the source of the assets, for the purposes of settling the finances they must be disclosed and valued. Only then can attention be given to whether or not they are matrimonial or should be treated differently. If however one party’s needs cannot be met from the matrimonial assets or if ring-fencing the non-matrimonial assets would create an unfair outcome then the distinction becomes less relevant. Similarly, the principle becomes less applicable the longer the marriage.
When a marriage comes to an end it is important to take legal advice as early as possible to ensure that you are aware of your rights and options.
Sarah Power is a Partner at Chadwick Lawrence and oversees their team of 7 specialist family lawyers based at their offices across West Yorkshire. The team offers flexible appointments and an initial free half hour appointment to find out where you stand contact us on 0800 015 0340.