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Financial implications of behavior and divorce

Published on 8 January 2020 | Modified on 14 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett

Does behaviour play a role in the division of the matrimonial assets upon divorce?

Very often, people going through a divorce are under the impression that the ‘bad’ or ‘unreasonable’ behaviour of one spouse will result in a more favourable outcome financially for the other spouse.

In reality, the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage are generally irrelevant and will not have an influence on the outcome of financial proceedings.

The reasons behind the breakdown of the marriage, whether it be adultery or unreasonable behaviour, are only a consideration for the Court in respect of the divorce proceedings themselves and not financial remedy proceedings.

How are matrimonial assets divided?

In the majority of cases, the matrimonial assets are divided dependent upon the spouses’ needs, regardless of who was to blame for the divorce.

If there are young children involved, this can sometimes lead to the Court favouring one spouse financially, as the children’s needs will take precedence when approaching how any matrimonial assets should be divided.

When is behaviour during the marriage a relevant factor for financial proceedings?

Generally speaking, the Court will consider one spouse’s conduct if their behaviour is so bad that it should not be ignored, these of course being in exceptional circumstances.

However, it must be noted that if any such behaviour has taken place, the spouse raising conduct as an issue for the Court to consider must show that there has been a financial implication to them.

A significant financial loss must be shown, for example, due to violence perpetrated by the other spouse or extreme financial irresponsibility. The Court will generally require any expenditure/dissipation of assets to have been deliberate or reckless.

Conduct within financial proceedings

Conduct driven cases will more often than not be due to one spouse’s behaviour during the financial proceedings themselves.

The Court may consider one spouse’s behaviour within proceedings as being obstructive and frustrating the Court process, such as failure to provide full and frank financial disclosure or deliberately drawing out the process.

When determining financial claims arising from the breakdown of a marriage, the Court has a number of factors to take into consideration in an attempt to obtain a fair outcome and division. As advised above, the Court is reluctant to ‘punish’ spouses for their behaviour within the marriage, unless the circumstances are exceptional.

The Family Department at Poole Alcock can advise you further in respect of any financial claims arising out of divorce and assist with any concerns you may have in respect of the same.

If you wish to contact our specialist family law team then please complete our contact us form here and we get in touch as soon as possible.


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