If you have been the party in the marriage who made the greatest financial contribution, will you be rewarded with the greatest share of the assets on divorce? The Family team answers that question.
There is a common misconception by many separating couples that if one party has financially sustained the family during the course of a marriage then their contribution is worth far more than the stay at home spouse who raised the children and/or looked after the home. The financial contributor often asserts that he/she should therefore have a larger share of the marital assets on separation to reflect the increased contributions they have made.
However, this notion is far from the reality. It has been established in family case law over the years that a stay at home spouse’s contribution should not be deemed less significant or less worthy than the party who financially contributed more. The stay at home spouse should never be discriminated against for the way in which roles in the family were organised.
It is often in these cases where one party has worked part time or not at all during the marriage that they suddenly find themselves in very vulnerable and exposed positions upon the breakdown of the relationship. They have less earning capacity which in turn impacts on their mortgage raising capacity. They may also have much less pension provision of their own and no independent income source as they have supported the financial contributor to develop their career and pension funds.
The main guiding principle of the court when dealing with the distribution of assets and financial claims on the breakdown of a marriage is fairness and this includes viewing a stay at home spouse’s contribution as equal albeit different to that of the financial contributor.
There may of course be circumstances where larger and outstanding financial contributions of one spouse are taken into consideration but these arguments will always be trumped by the issue of needs for both parties and more importantly those of any minor children. If needs cannot be met larger contributions will be of no consequence.
It is therefore important to seek advice at the earliest opportunity following relationship difficulties or breakdown whether you are the stay at home spouse or the financial contributor in order for your circumstances to be assessed and for tailored advice to be provided to you from the outset.