One of the most difficult elements of settling any divorce proceeding is determining who gets what from the matrimonial estate, and whether or not any ongoing provision need be made to sustain the remaining spouse or indeed any children of the marriage.
In the absence of pre-nuptial agreements, divorce is a messy business which almost certainly requires the input of divorce attorneys and the courts when it comes down to dividing the assets of the marriage. That’s why you need to be familiar from the outset with your potential financial obligations and exactly how much you could end up paying your former husband or wife.
In most jurisdictions (although this can vary), there is a 50% rule. What that means, by and large, is that the estate is divided equally between both spouses on divorce, leaving each with exactly half of the aggregate property. In effect, this closes any gap between spouses, say where one is in full time employment and the other is dependent or one owns property and investments and the other looks after the house and children. Of course, the all important detail varies between place to place – what property is up for division?
Often the property to be divided is any property acquired during the course of the marriage. In other words, savings, chattles, housing – anything bought after the marriage is available for 50/50 division between the two spouses on separation. However in some jurisdictions, such as California, the rule goes further to split entire net wealth 50/50, which is obviously more significant and arguably more inequitable.
A crucial financial obligation that is often forgotten but still remains in a large number of jurisdictions worldwide is the obligation to aliment a dependent spouse on divorce. In other words, if the husband of a marriage was the main bread winner and the wife played the role of homemaker and cared for the children, the husband would most likely be required to provide some ongoing financial provision further to the divorce in order to allow the wife to find her feet financially and to gain full time employment.
Of course, there’s also the alimentary obligations owed to children of the relationship up until the age of 16, 18 or even 21 depending on the jurisdiction in which you reside. What that means is that it might be worthwhile touching base with a solicitor to find out your obligations before you begin pre-divorce negotiations.