If you have decided to get a divorce, it is normal to feel anxious about the impact this can have on your current and long-term financial situation. What you are entitled to in a divorce will depend on your particular circumstances. Various factors will be involved, including whether assets are owned jointly or individually, if you have financially dependent children and if you and your former spouse can reach an agreement on the division of property. 

At Thorley Stephenson, our divorce solicitors are here to protect your financial position. We understand that the breakdown of a marriage brings with it a lot of emotion and uncertainty. You can rely on us to provide honest advice and robust support to reach a settlement that safeguards you and your family now and in the future.

To find out how we can help you during a divorce, contact our team today.

How to determine who owns what assets

Your assets will be divided into those that belong to you or your spouse individually (which are not included in the financial settlement), and those that you are deemed to share ownership of (which are included).

Individually owned assets

Items you and your partner owned before you got married or obtained after you separated, as well as property gifted to or inherited by either spouse, will not be included in the financial settlement. You can decide what to do with these items.


There are some exceptions to be aware of, however. If your family home was purchased before the marriage, it will be included in the settlement, along with its furnishings. Gifts or inheritance received pre-marriage will be included if they are used during the marriage – for example, if inherited money was used to buy the family home.

Matrimonial property

Matrimonial property includes all the assets acquired from the beginning of your marriage to the separation date. It also covers certain individually owned property if used during the marriage (see ‘Exceptions’ above). The matrimonial property pot often includes properties, cars, possessions, savings and investments. These assets will all be considered during your divorce settlement.

How are property and other financial matters dealt with during a divorce?

This depends on whether you and your former spouse can reach an agreement.

If you can agree

An out-of-court settlement is beneficial for both parties as it can save you considerable time, money and stress. Our divorce lawyers have helped many clients reach a financial settlement that is both protective and fair, outside of the courtroom. We will advise you on the best way to safeguard your financial position and communicate with your ex-spouses’ solicitor until a consensus is reached. If there are sticking points, these can often be successfully dealt with using expert negotiation, mediation and other dispute resolution skills.

If you and your ex-partner can agree on how your property will be split and if any one-off or ongoing payments should be made from one spouse to the other, these details will be included in a separation agreement, which must then be submitted to the court. If the settlement is considered to be fair and reasonable, the court will approve it, and your divorce will advance quickly.

If you cannot agree

In cases where an agreement cannot be reached, you will have to ask the court to assist with your financial settlement. The court will make decisions about how your matrimonial property is to be divided and if payments should be made to either spouse.

Several guiding principles will be used in the decision-making process. These are:

  • Fairness: The court will seek to divide the value of your matrimonial property equally between you and your former spouse. However, this is not a blanket rule. If it would be fairer in the circumstances to order an uneven split, the court will do so.
  • Economic advantage/disadvantage: The court will pay attention to any financial benefit or burden either you or your former spouse has experienced because of your contributions to the family. An example is where one spouse has given up their job to take care of their children.
  • Childcare: If you have children under 16 years old, account will be taken for the finances you and your former spouse need for their care. The court will aim to share the cost of childcare equally between the parties if this is fair in the circumstances.
  • Lack of support: If one spouse was financially dependent on the other during their marriage, the court might order this support to continue for up to three years to allow the dependent party to get back to work or adjust in other ways. Divorce proceedings aim to facilitate a clean break where possible. This means if the court orders one party to provide financial support to the other, this will usually be a lump sum rather than instalments (known as maintenance).
  • Financial hardship: The court may instruct one spouse to pay maintenance or a one-off payment to the other if it is likely that they will struggle financially because of the divorce.

What about my pension?

The pension money you have accumulated during your marriage will be included in the financial settlement; any amount collected before your marriage and after you separated will not.

There are several ways that your pension can be dealt with during your divorce. For example, you may agree that one of you will receive a percentage of the other’s pension pot. In this case, you must ask the court to grant a Pension Sharing Order as part of your wider financial settlement. Pension offsetting is another common approach, which involves one spouse keeping their pension while the other retains a bigger portion of another asset (such as the family home).

Our lawyers will assess your pension situation carefully and advise on the best way to protect your long-term financial interests.

Contact Our Award-Winning Divorce Lawyers Edinburgh & East Lothian, Scotland

If you have any questions about the financial aspects, or any other stages, of the divorce process, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Our family law team are here to provide you with clear, practical and tailored advice for your circumstances. If you instruct us, we will use our skills and experience to achieve a financial settlement that works for you – allowing you to move on in the quickest and most efficient way possible. For expert legal advice, call us on 01315569599 or complete our online enquiry form and we will be in touch.

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