When it comes to writing a pre-nuptial agreement or settling the terms of a divorce the phrase non-matrimonial property is appearing more and more often but what does it actually mean?
What constitutes a non-matrimonial asset is a question which can often be the cause of considerable conflict when a couple divorce. Broadly, it is any item of value owned by the parties the source of which is outside the marriage.
This can mean something owned by one of the couple prior to the marriage or acquired after the couple separated. This could be a home, savings, business or other investments. It can also be an asset inherited or gifted to one of them individually either before, during or after the marriage.
In contrast matrimonial assets are usually viewed as those accrued during the course of the marriage. It is very difficult to persuade the court that the family home should not be considered a matrimonial asset.
The approach of the courts to non matrimonial property is complicated and it is very important to take expert family law advice if this is an issue relevant to your case.
All assets owned by the couple in either their or joint names must be considered on a divorce. It is then possible to argue that non matrimonial property should be ring-fenced from being shared or treated in a different way. If however the needs of either party or any children can’t be met without it being used or it would create an unfair outcome then non matrimonial property will fall to be shared in the same way as matrimonial property.
This creates considerable uncertainty and can be viewed as very unfair. Pre-Nuptial Agreements are often entered into with a view to trying to protect non-matrimonial property in the event of a divorce.
A pre-nuptial agreement can identify non-matrimonial property which should be excluded from division in the event the relationship breaks down.
It is extremely important to seek professional legal advice when entering into a pre-nuptial agreement or considering divorce. Call Slater and Gordon Pre-Nuptial Agreement Solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online and we will call you.
Vicki McLynn is a Senior Family Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
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