Catherine Lowther, Family Solicitor

How are marital assets divided in a divorce?


On the 9th January Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, and his wife Mackenzie Bezos announced they were filing for divorce after 25 years of marriage. Reports suggest that couple wish to remain amicable throughout this process, however with Jeff’s reported net worth to be in the region of $137 billion, this may change dramatically.

Divorce law within the United Kingdom is very different to the American system which will be used in this case. Under UK law, the starting point for the division of the matrimonial assets is a 50:50 split. The courts will then investigate a range of issues, including the needs of each party, and the 50:50 split will be adjusted accordingly. They will also look at factors such as children, housing needs, income disparity between the parties, income capacity, standard of living, age of the parties and if either of the parties has a disability or health issues.

It is worth being mindful that any assets acquired during the marriage such as property, pensions, savings, investments and business assets, will need to be examined to understand how these assets are structured, and the extent of each party’s involvement, in order to achieve division of the same.

In the case of high net worth couples such as the Bezos’, complexities may arise when Trusts for children and offshore investments are raised as assets. In these cases, solicitors may need to involve other professionals and there may be jurisdictional issues to consider, but it is imperative that parties give full disclosure of such assets.

If matters can be dealt with in an amicable manner, which may at times seem impossible when dealing with the breakdown of a relationship, costs and time can be saved, and any stress to the parties and any children concerned will of course be greatly reduced.

At Swinburne Maddison we are committed to dealing with relationship breakdown in a fair and amicable manner. Our specialist lawyers can advise you as to the likely division of the matrimonial assets and guide you through complex matters in a clear and practical way. Should you need any assistance please do not hesitate to contact the team on 0191 384 2441.

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