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FAQs on financial issues during divorce - Part 1

View profile for Melanie Loxley
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In the first of a 2 part series, Mel Loxley, who is a Solicitor and Partner in the Divorce and Separation Team of Birkett Long and based in our Colchester office, answers a number of frequently asked questions by those who are facing divorce.

Part 1 focuses on those questions often asked by the economically weaker party. Part 2 focuses on those questions often asked by the breadwinner or financially stronger party. This will be available to view on 24 October 2019.

1. What am I entitled to in divorce? 

On divorce, you and your partner have claims against one another for property, lump sums, maintenance and pensions.

How much you will be entitled to will depend on a number of factors, set down by statute, which include all the circumstances of the marriage and in particular:-

  • the income, earning potential, property and other financial resources of you both either now or in the future
  • the needs, obligations and responsibilities of you both
  • the ages of you both and the length of the marriage
  • any disability either of you may have
  • the standard of living you enjoyed during the marriage
  • any relevant contributions each of you has made
  • (in rare circumstances) any conduct there may have been
  • what loss you may each face as a result of the marriage ending

It is rare for 2 divorces to have the same outcome due to the number of factors that impact on what you are entitled to.

2. Am I entitled to half of everything?

In long marriages, this is certainly the starting point, but it is not always (or even very often) the end result. For example, if the assets of the marriage are too modest to meet both of your needs, there will often be an unequal division in favour of the person with the greater need. This is frequently the case where there are children whose housing needs must be met.

In shorter marriages, where your partner has brought wealth into the marriage that was in existence before the relationship, it is likely you would struggle to argue you should receive half of everything.

3. Will I have to sell my home?

The family home will often have to be sold on divorce, as most couples tend to tie up most of their capital in their home. Although, it may be the case that one of you can afford to buy out the other person’s interest in the house (and release them from any mortgage secured on it).

In some cases, if the house is modest and continues to be affordable, it is likely to be appropriate for the primary carer of the children to remain in the property until the youngest child reaches 18. The sale will be postponed until then.

4. Can I be forced to sell my home if I don’t agree to do so?

Potentially, yes. If your partner applies to the court for financial remedy, then the court has the power to order the sale of your home if it feels it is appropriate to do so, bearing in mind the factors detailed at point 1 above. Indeed, the court can execute documents to effect the sale in the event that you fail to do so.

5. Can I change the locks?

It is actually unlawful to change the locks on a jointly owned property and it is therefore inadvisable to do so. You could however agree that if your partner is moving out, they will let you know when they plan to visit the property and agree that they will knock on the door rather than letting themselves in.

6. Am I entitled to maintenance?

If you earn a lot less than your partner and cannot meet your needs without their assistance, then you could well have a valid maintenance claim. The amount and duration of this would depend on the statutory factors detailed above in point 1.

If you have any other questions about divorce and separation that are not detailed above, please contact me. I am a divorce and separation lawyer based in our Colchester office and I can be contacted on 01206 217384 for a free, no obligation 15 minute telephone conversation. Alternatively, you can email