A commonly asked question by many clients is the extent to which their spouse’s behaviour may be considered when dividing assets of the marriage.
Where a spouse has committed adultery, or behaved unreasonably, causing the marriage to break down, the petitioning spouse can be surprised to learn that such behaviour is unlikely to affect the financial settlement.
Individuals filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery or unreasonable behaviour often think the ‘bad’ behaviour of a spouse will lead to a more favourable financial outcome for the ‘injured’ party. This is a common misconception. In reality the reasons for the divorce are generally irrelevant to the court when considering the division of assets and will not influence the outcome of the financial proceedings. Although this may seem unfair, the court must adhere to the provisions set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
What this means is that in the vast majority of cases, the assets will be split according to need or other criteria set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act, regardless of ‘who is to blame’ for the breakdown of the marriage. (This will apply even in circumstances where there has been domestic violence).
A party’s conduct during a marriage will only influence the financial settlement in very limited circumstances. The conduct needs to be gross and must have a direct and obvious effect upon the matrimonial assets.
If there is litigation misconduct (for example repeated non-compliance with Court orders), this can in some cases result in an order for costs against the offending party rather than directly effecting the financial settlement.
Shreeti Rajdev – Solicitor /Partner
T: +0044 (0)20 8866 6464
The Sethi Partnership Solicitors I The Barn House I 38 Meadow Way I Eastcote I Ruislip I Middlesex I HA4 8TB