Dividing assets upon divorce – are women in a more precarious financial position than their partners?

The Nuffield Foundation undertook a recent study entitled “Fair Shares? Sorting out money and property on divorce”. The study shed light on how divorcing couples in England and Wales negotiate their financial arrangements and divide their assets, including the impact on divorcees when they don’t seek legal advice.

Since the introduction of ‘no-fault’ divorce in April 2022, some divorcing couples have found that this has made the process more amicable and less fraught, in comparison to the procedure pre-April 2022.  Due to many divorcing couples wanting to keep their divorce and separation amicable, many try and avoid instructing a solicitor out of fear that if they do seek legal advice, it will make things more acrimonious. Many also believe that if they instruct a solicitor, it means that they will inevitably have to attend at Court to finalise their finances, resulting in a more costly process and leaving them in a more precarious financial position. However, Nuffield’s study found the opposite. The research undertaken by Nuffield revealed that by bypassing the legal system, many wives are left worse off. Nuffield found that this was mainly due to the fact that the pension position would not be “adequately addressed” when dealing with the division of assets, with men only being likely to share their pension if they received legal advice. In light of this, Nuffield also found that if they sought legal advice, women were more likely to receive ongoing financial support, able to keep the family home, or receive a higher percentage of the proceeds of sale if the family home was ordered to be sold.

Concerningly, the study found that only two in five divorcees use a lawyer, despite the prevalence of divorce within the UK. Clearly, the above findings by Nuffield show the importance of seeking legal advice, particularly for the weaker financial party within a marriage.

If you need legal advice when dividing your assets upon divorce, or require advice on your divorce in general, please contact us on 029 2019 7203 to speak to one of our expert family law solicitors.