As more people enter civil partnerships and same sex marriages it’s an unfortunate fact of life that more of these relationships are also ending in divorce, or dissolution as it’s known. Between 2012 and 2014 there was a 20% increase in the number of civil partnership dissolutions.
Looking at the latest YouGov Survey Family Law 2015 we can see that the most common reasons for disputes in divorce and dissolution are around finances and property. So what are the rules and approaches to coming to an agreement about finances when ending a civil partnership?
You may, or may not, be surprised to learn that when dealing with the split of finances following the dissolution of a civil partnership the same principles apply as for a divorce for a heterosexual couple in that generally all the assets (whether held in joint names or held solely) will go into the pot to be divided and the starting point is a 50/50 split of assets.
For a fair settlement to be achieved for both parties there needs to be “full and frank disclosure” of their financial positions. This way both parties will know exactly what the other has and it will enable their respective lawyers to negotiate a fair settlement or push for a departure from the 50/50 starting point. Disclosure is also essential if the parties are planning to reach an agreement without the help of solicitors, as without there will be no way of knowing that everything has been fully taken account of and all assets (and debts) considered.
Just bear in mind that when family lawyers deal with the split of the assets it is often a juggling act with one asset being offset against another. For example, one party may keep all the equity in the house in return for dismissing claims against the other party’s pension.
What happens to property when we split?
If there’s a property to sort out, there are several options and the one you choose will depend on your particular set of circumstances and a full consideration of all the assets the two of you hold. If you are in this position you might consider:
- buying out your partner’s share
- selling the property and splitting the equity
- offsetting the equity in the house against other assets
- agreeing to buy out your partner at a stage in the future and in the meantime they maintain a charge over the property
Whatever you decide it’s important to record your agreement in a formal written document which a family law solicitor can draw up for you.
Can I get maintenance?
There are two types of maintenance, child and spousal maintenance. As a quick & ready calculation you can have a good idea of how much should be payable by way of child maintenance if you use the calculator provided by the government. Spousal maintenance (maintenance for yourself), is only available in certain circumstances. This will normally apply when there are dependent children and / or there is a disparity in income. If there are enough assets in the pot to meet both parties’ housing and other needs, spousal maintenance may be capitalised which means that instead of receiving spousal maintenance (a certain amount payable each month), it may be exchanged for a lump sum or off-set against another asset. Again, it’s best to take specialist advice on your own circumstances as sometimes it’s better to have a lump sum now rather than an regular monthly amount.
Tying up loose ends
As you go through the divorce (dissolution) process it is important to tie up any legal lose ends. For example, you may wish to review or rewrite your Will, and if you have a pension change the nomination of the beneficiary if you do not want your Civil Partner to benefit in the event of your demise whilst you are still legally in a Civil Partnership.
The rules and procedures for those in a civil partnership are the same as for a married couple and the advice we give is the same. Make sure you understand fully the value of all the assets you each have and once you have come to an agreement make sure it’s written into a legally binding court order, often called a consent order or clean break order. That way there will be no nasty surprises in the future and no possibility your ex can make a claim in years to come.
Family law solicitor Bournemouth