Thursday, April 24, 2008

Matrimonial Property

As I said in my earlier post Joint Minute of Agreement in Scotland the financial matters normally need to be resolved before the court may grant divorce. Matrimonial property is that accrued between the dates of marriage and separation and there are 4 steps to take before deciding how the assets should be shared.

1. Establishing the date of separation on which the married couple cease to cohabit as man and wife.

2. Identifying all the assets owned jointly or individually by a couple at the separation date including the house, furnishings, a car, pensions, savings and investments and   any outstanding liabilities (mortgage, car finance, personal loans, credit card debts etc) in existence on the date of separation.

3. Determining any non matrimonial property by looking at the individual assets and seeing the circumstances in  which they were acquired. Assets owned by either party before the marriage or those gifted or inherited are not matrimonial property.

4. Valuing matrimonial assets as at the date of separation, for example, by providing statements for savings, asking insurance companies for surrender valuations of endowments and pension providers for the Cash Equivalent Transfer Value. Endowment policies and pensions started before marriage are apportioned for the years of the marriage. It's best to have agreement before having the house valued by a Chartered Surveyor. The liabilities are deducted from the assets to provide the net value of matrimonial property.

Hint: It can be a great assistance to your lawyer and help to keep your costs down if you can collect documents and keep them organised to produce in a timely manner when required. Please avoid doing what I did. Due to computer incompatibility at the time I wrote out a draft schedule of our assets on a page of my daughter's school jotter for my solicitor and as time went on this much amended and photocopied sheet haunted me. A spreadsheet which can be updated is a far better idea.


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