Will I Lose Everything After My Divorce?

A common concern for those about to enter divorce proceedings relates to financial matters.  It tends to be a main topic in initial discussions with clients, as worries surface for high net worth individuals who fear losing all their assets.

As the courts look at each case individually with focus placed on income, financial contributions made by both parties during a marriage as well as stability for any children, there is no simple answer to the question but fairness plays an important role.

The courts have complete discretion when making decisions on how family finances will be divided post-divorce.  The longer the marriage has lasted the more focus is placed on who deserves what in relation to personal property, finance and corporate assets.

The divorce announcement between Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, was a shock to many but it was quickly followed by speculation on how shares and profits could be divided between the couple.

It has been said that Mackenzie could now become the world’s richest woman, with Jeff Bezos having accumulated assets worth $137.2 billion.  This could result in a settlement of $69 billion or even more, as his fortune has now hit around $160 billion as Amazon is once again Wall Street’s most valuable company. (Jan 2019). These types of amounts are exceptional, but her claim to the fortune will have come about in respect of the length of the marriage and contributions she has made to that and the business.

A union that has lasted less than five years is considered short by the court and things will be evaluated very differently. If someone has brought substantial assets to a short marriage, they will stand more of a chance of being able to keep them unless any children come into the equation.  Anything longer than this however, will be viewed very differently and it’s an important distinction.

As proceedings get underway and financial statements made, the court will consider both a husband’s and wife’s situation and the standard of living they both enjoyed during a longer marriage.

For  example, if a business owner bought a property as a bachelor, keeping only his name on the deeds after marriage, where he continued to pay all mortgage payments and bills, it does not follow that he will be able to keep the property just for himself.   Furthermore, particularly if there are children involved, the wife cannot be forced to leave.

Many things come into consideration including duration, dependents, disabilities and certain situations could demonstrate that there is a greater financial need for a spouse.   A wife could state that many potential benefits were lost financially if sacrifices have been made to raise a family, for example. 

During a divorce the court has almost unconstrained discretion as to how financial settlements will be divided.  In simple terms, there is no quick fix assurance regarding financial settlements when it comes to matrimonial and family law proceedings.

With a history of successful negotiation on complex financial matters, the Benussi & Co team can advise on matters to ensure the best result is achieved for clients.

For more information or to discuss current divorce proceedings  please call 0121 248 4001.

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