family law Resources

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Financial Provisions Upon Marital Breakdown

Courts have a wide discretion as to what financial provisions should be ordered upon marital breakdown. Marital breakdown will include nullity, divorce, and separation. Section 25(1) Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 requires the court to take all the circumstances into account, and the first consideration to be given to the welfare of any child of the family who has not attained the age of 18, and to consider in particular the matters listed under Section 25(2).

The matters which the courts will consider are: the financial resources of the parties and that will include property inherited after divorce; the reasonable earning capacity and potential of the parties; the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of the parties; the standard of living enjoyed by the family prior to the marital breakdown; the parties' age and length of the marriage; any physical or mental disability of either of the parties; the contributions to the welfare of the family which includes looking after the home or caring for the family; the conduct of the parties; and any benefit which either party will lose.

The court has discretion to make different orders. Under Section 22, the court may make an order requiring either party to make to the other interim periodical payments for his maintenance pending suit. The courts may, under Section 23, also order full periodical payments by either party to the other after the making of a divorce or separation unless the court is satisfied that the circumstances of the case are exceptional and it would be just and reasonable for the order to be made. The court may also order a party to make a once-and-for-all payment where appropriate in the form of a lump sum. Furthermore, the court may also make property adjustment and transfer orders to order that specified property, which the spouse is entitled to, be transferred to the other party. Other orders that the court may direct include settlement orders, variation of nuptial settlements, and sale orders.