When most people think about a divorce settlement their thoughts turn to who would look after the children and whether the family home would have to be sold. These are, for many couples, the major issues in divorce, but sometimes it can be seemingly inconsequential items which cause major heartache and dispute.
In short marriage settlements, it can be fairly easy to sort out who takes what when the relationship ends. Spouses can usually remember who owned the espresso machine before they moved in together, but arguments can still arise over certain items.
The best strategy to prevent arguments over specific items of property is to draw up a pre-nuptial agreement, or even a post-nuptial agreement, so that each spouse can stipulate items they owned before the marriage, or obtained during the relationship, and would like to remain in their possession after relationship breakdown.
Items such as heirloom jewellery, valuable paintings or furniture should be included, especially if proof of ownership is not readily available. Even items such as a dinner service, perhaps given as a wedding present, could be agreed upon and included in a marital property agreement.
Difficulty may arise if an asset has been liquidated – for instance, if a painting is handed down to the wife and she sells it to help fund the purchase of a property which is then jointly owned by both spouses, she may struggle to retrieve the full value of the painting unless it has been expressly detailed in the ownership papers of the property.
For many family property items, spouses will simply have to negotiate and this can be a time when mediation becomes useful, especially if it is taking time to reach agreement.
Independent mediation can help couples who cannot agree a suitable divorce settlement and most judges will require couples in dispute to at least explore the possibility of mediation before taking their financial claim to court.
As divorce solicitors in West Sussex, the team at George Ide often get asked very similar and specific questions at the outset of a divorce case. However, it is difficult to answer such queries without listening carefully to your individual circumstances.
Here at George Ide, we believe that we can help you by listening carefully and sensitively to your personal situation and then we will be able to offer you straightforward, pragmatic advice to help you move forward in your divorce or family dispute.
For help and advice regarding long and short marriage settlements, defending a divorce financial claim, or any issue arising from relationship breakdown, please call the family law team at George Ide LLP in Chichester.
We provide expert, committed and client-focused legal advice and representation, and will be on your side throughout your divorce claim.