Is everything split 50:50 when you get divorced?
There are lots of reasons why things you own may not be split equally, or 50:50, when you divorce

Recently, I’ve had quite a few emails, either through the ‘ask the experts’ section, or just directly, from women who assume that everything they own will be split 50:50 with their husband (or civil partner) when they divorce. It’s easy to see why you might think that, but it’s rarely the case (except in Scotland, where the divorce law is different).

How things you own are split – the principles
The main consideration, when you get divorced in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, is how much you and your husband or civil partner need to live on after the divorce or dissolution of your civil partnership.

• If you have children: their needs will come first. This means that the value of the family home may be split unequally to ensure that the parent who has the children for the majority of the time (assuming care of children isn’t split equally) has somewhere to live.

• If you don’t have children: your individual needs will be paramount. This means ensuring that you each have somewhere to live and that you can support yourselves.

In Scotland
If you get divorced in Scotland, the starting point is that property and assets (such as savings, investments, cars etc) that you acquired during your marriage is split equally. However, property and assets that you already had before you got married are rarely included. There are some exceptions, such as a property that you bought before you got married but planned to live in after you were married.

How things are split, the practice
In England and Wales, very few divorces actually go to court. Most are negotiated – either with the involvement of family lawyers or through mediation.

• As part of the negotiation, the value of different assets may be ‘offset’ against each other.

• This may be done so that property doesn’t have to be sold and/or investments and pensions don’t have to be cashed in.

SAVVY TIP: Even though different assets may be offset against each other, it’s still worth making sure they are properly valued and that you’ve taken advice about how they will be offset. I’ve seen many cases where wives have been discouraged from trying to get a percentage of the pension. Often the pension may be one of the most valuable assets. There's more in my short video on Pensions and divorce

As an example, your ex husband may decide not to make a claim against your pension, in return for being able to keep an investment property you own jointly.

SAVVY TIP: Although some investments and policies will be divided equally, that’s not the starting point during divorce. The starting point is to make sure you and your children are provided for and, once your needs have been met (assuming there’s anything left over) to divide the rest.

The importance of advice
Because money, property, pensions and investments are rarely divided 50:50 (except in Scotland, as outlined above), it’s important to take advice. If you and your ex want to reach an agreement between you, that’s fine. But I get lots of emails from women (and I’m sure there are men in a similar situation) who’ve been told by their ex that they’re not entitled to make a claim on the pension/house/investments. From the information they provide in the emails, that’s rarely the case.

SavvyWoman email newsletters: If you found this information useful why not sign up now to receive free fortnightly email newsletters with money saving tips and help? You can sign up at the top of any page on the website and your details won’t be passed to any other company for marketing purposes.

Related articles:

A survey shows pensions were only mentioned in 15% of divorces

Can you keep an inheritance out of the divorce 'pot'?

How do you work out how much a business is worth on divorce?

SAVVY HELP: Why not ask Savvywoman's panel of experts a question about your finances by clicking here? The answer will be displayed on the website but your surname will never be used.

27-01-2013
27-01-2013
12
 
 

 
 
Validate: What are HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest and Barclays?
 
Finish:

Posted by Mandy dated 2013-04-08 14:38:28
I am currently going through divorce and the main assets are tied up in jointly owned (but not equally) businesses, for which I worked for over 8 years. I am concerned how the value will be worked out to arrive at an asset value. They are primarily internet based businesses, which my ex husband has claimed are entirely his enterprise. My pensions are also quite valuable (nearly £300k transfer value), but I believe he would only be entitled to the proportion contributed by me during the relevant years of marriage. What figures are used to arrive at a company valuation and how would he be expected to raise money assuming that my divorce settlement is formed by the company assets..?
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2013-04-11 06:51:18
Hi Mandy, Thanks for your questions and sorry I didn't spot them until today. I'm afraid they are a bit too detailed for me to answer in a comments box. As you'll have seen from the article, valuing a business is a bit of an art rather than a science. However, I don't think your husband can claim the business is entirely his unless you a) had a very short marriage b) there are no children and/or c) there is a pre-nup or post-nuptial agreement in place. It is the case that family law courts are increasingly reluctant to divide a business if that is one partner's main source of income, because it could leave them without any income. Have you seen the business's books? Do you know how much it could be worth? If not, I'd suggest talking to your divorce lawyer about whether it is worth getting a forensic accountant involved. This can be costly but it may be worth it. You and your husband can share the forensic accountant. You might find my article entitled 'Valuing a business in divorce'
Posted by maggiemay dated 2013-04-11 17:21:59
my husband has left me after a 25years of marriage i am wondering as im unable to work due to ill health what my rights are to his works pension fund when he retires
Posted by AnneD dated 2013-06-26 05:05:29
my financial contribution including inheritance and gifts from my family has been considerably more than the financial input of my husband. We have no children. Will my husband still receive half of our investments when we divorce?
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2013-06-26 18:10:57
Hi Maggiemay, I'm so sorry - I've only just spotted your comment. I'm so sorry for the delay in replying. I was on holiday when you left a comment but did check the website (but obviously not carefully enough). That's no excuse and I should have replied earlier - apologies again. In relation to your question, you would be entitled to a share of your husband's pension at the time of divorce. You wouldn't have to wait until he retires. I'd recommend that you talk to a divorce lawyer and make sure that they have experience in dealing with pensions in divorce (which all good divorce lawyers should have). Don't be fobbed off - either by your husband, his lawyers or the pension scheme he's a member of. Be persistent as, depending on the pension scheme, it could be a significant amount of money.
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2013-06-26 18:14:01
Hi AnneD, Thanks for your question. As you'll have seen from the title of the article, things aren't necessarily divided 50:50 on divorce. The starting point is always need - namely, how much money, housing etc each person needs after divorce. If there's money left over once needs have been catered for, any remaining assets etc are divided. In some cases inheritances may be left out of the 'pot' but it does depend on what's left to divide. A session of expert legal advice may be a very good investment.
Posted by angie dated 2013-10-07 18:15:09
Hello Can you please tell me what amount will have to be in the pot left for this to be split 50;50 and at what point does this start to swing towards the mother and children ? Could you please put some figures on your text below... thank you If you have children: their needs will come first. This means that the value of the family home may be split unequally to ensure that the parent who has the children for the majority of the time (assuming care of children isn’t split equally) has somewhere to live.
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2013-10-08 05:22:24
Hi Angie, Thanks for your question. I'm afraid I can't give a definite figure as it will all depend on the needs of the husband, wife and children. The figure would depend on the area they live in and the number of children etc. A 50:50 split is more likely if the marriage has been a long one and splitting everything that way wouldn't leave either party - or the children - without enough money/housing etc.
Posted by loisg dated 2014-09-11 20:54:50
Hi. My husband and I were married 3 years. 6 Months into the marriage I found him on websites / webcams /and advertising himself to couples etc. Things were never the s as me and we've had separate rooms! The house was his and he's paid the mortgage / bills but I've brought all food,stuff for the house and always paid when we've gone out. Am I entitled to anything from the house? I am divorcing him for unreasonable behaviour because the sites etc - thanks
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2014-09-14 20:08:41
Hi Lois,
Thanks for your comment. It's hard to say exactly what you might be entitled to. In very general terms, if you haven't been married for long, you are less likely to have a claim on each other's money. If you have children, their needs come first, but if you don't have any children, the courts would look at what you'd built up during your marriage and how much each had contributed. In terms of money and assets you owned before the marriage, it may be possible - even likely - that you'd each keep what you had. But there are no completely hard and fast rules. How your husband has behaved during the marriage won't come into it, however - ie you wouldn't be awarded more because of how the marriage ended.
Posted by ANolan dated 2014-10-20 17:12:14
My husband and I have been married 25 years and our relationship has broken down. I gave up work three years ago after the birth of our youngest son , we also have a 15 yr old son. Most of our savings and our house is in joint names . A large lump of the savings are in my name for tax purposes. Our savings and property exceed two million pounds, most of this money was made from the sale of his business 8 yrs ago. Roughly what would I be entitled to?
Posted by Sarah Pennells dated 2014-10-21 08:31:00
Hi A,
Thanks for your question and I'm sorry to hear that your relationship has broken down. I'm afraid I couldn't give you an indication of what you might receive. It's something you'd have to talk to a solicitor who specialises in family law about. However, the court's starting point would be to make sure that your children and then you and your husband are provided for. Depending on how the children split their time or who they spend most time with, there could be implications for housing etc (traditionally children have spent most of their time with their mother, but it's certainly not always the case and some split their time 50:50 or are brought up by their father). Once your needs have been met, the court would look at dividing what's left. My tip would be to make sure you don't overlook the pension(s) that your husband may have. Incidentally, it doesn't matter whose name the assets are in or who bought them. I'm assuming that you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

 
The material provided on this website is general information that is intended for general guidance and is not suitable for professional advice.
You should always obtain independent financial advice.