When a relationship ends

Upon separation an option for parties is to start negotiations with a view to dealing with important matters such as,

  • Who will occupy the matrimonial home?
  • How to divide up the matrimonial assets,
    which may include, properties, incomes,
    savings, policies, pensions, claims,
    inherited assets?
  • Dividing debt
  • Maintenance
    If the parties are not willing to enter into discussions, then an agreement cannot be reached. It is therefore important that if an agreement is to be reached that each party has their own separate independent legal representation.


What is the advantage of a matrimonial agreement?
The advantage of reaching a matrimonial agreement is to allow the parties to approach the settlement of their affairs on an agreed basis, as opposed to issuing court proceedings and proceeding on a contentious or litigious basis.


When will a matrimonial agreement not be binding?
A matrimonial agreement will not be binding unless each party receives proper independent legal advice as to the nature and extent of their entitlement and obligations.


When can a matrimonial agreement be set aside by the Court?
If either party does not make full and frank disclosure of all of their assets to the
other party in the context of the financial negotiations, then any matrimonial agreement which has been signed has the potential of being set aside by a court. It is therefore extremely important that prior to drafting a matrimonial agreement that full and frank disclosure / exchange of all financial information must take place in order that both parties can be fully informed about the nature and extent of their entitlement before either party can enter into a matrimonial agreement.


What type of discovery is normally required to be exchanged?

  • Property valuations
  • Mortgage redemption statements
  • Bank / building society statements for the past
    12 months
  • Wages slips for the past 12 months
  • P60 for the past 12 months
  • Details of life policies / ISA’s / stocks and shares
  • Loan accounts / compensation claims /
    inheritances which have been received or are
    about to be received during the period of the
    marriage
  • Pension information to include an up to date
    statement of the pension i.e. a Cash
    Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV)


What happens if negotiations are successful, and an agreement is reached?
At this point, the Solicitors would draft an agreement for each party to approve an ultimately each party would sign the agreement in the presence of their legal representative who witnesses their signature; this process is called swearing a document. As long as each party is of sound mind and full disclosure has been made prior to the signing of the agreement and the discovery process
has been completed then the matrimonial agreement is of huge legal and financial significance. The matrimonial agreement is recognised as a contract and will become enforceable upon the application of either party to the marriage to have the agreement made a rule of court, generally at the stage of the Decree Nisi hearing of the divorce. By going down the route of a matrimonial
agreement, this can remove a huge amount of uncertainty and anxiety for the parties and
allows them to deal with the marriage breakup in a conciliatory way.

If you have a legal query in relation to the above, then please do not hesitate to contact Michelle Crilly Family Law Solicitors on 028 3833 4020 or email info@mcrillylaw.co.uk.

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