Is it always 50/50?
This is the most commonly asked question by a client in regard to the split of the Matrimonial Assest. The law currently states, through case law, that the starting point is 50/50 but that the net result of the split of the assets should be fair.
Equal is not always fair. In a case where a wife has 3 children under 10 years of age who earns £5000.00 per annum, with a husband earning £35,000.00 p.a. and where they have an equity of £150,000.00 on the matrimonial home, there would not be an equal division. The wife would be likely to have a high proportion of the equity, say 70%, depending on other assets and assuming she was the main carer of the children.
Other incidents where there is a departure from equality are when one party brings a substantial sum of money to the marriage, for example an inheritance. In a very recent case of N -v-N (2010) EWHC717, where Charles J dealt with a case concerning a 29 year marriage with 4 children. The total assets were valued at £16 million of which £12 million related to the husbands inheritance. The wife was awarded 5.3 million to cover her needs. This equated to 32%. In this way weight was given to the inherited aspect of the case. Also where assets are claimed before the marriage and where there is a short marriage, awards are very likely to not be on a 50/50 basis.
The starting and ending point for the splitting of matrimonial assets is based on fairness not equality. Courts weightshare the needs when deciding how to split assest. The answer therefore is it is not always 50/50 it will depend on the facts.