What factors will the courts consider when making financial orders?
The court has a duty to consider all the circumstances of the case. First consideration must be given to any children who are minors (under 18). This differs from the children side of the divorce, where they are the “paramount” consideration. Here the children are not the overriding consideration, as the court has a duty to consider all the circumstances, such as any pre-nuptial agreements. However, in practice the court will prioritise the provision of a home for the children of the family, together with enough income to cover the related bills and maintenance. In most cases this will account for the majority of the family’s assets.
Other factors the court will consider are:
- the welfare of any child of the family who has is under 18
- Income – both in the present and in the foreseeable future
- Present and future potential earning capacity
- Other financial resources (such as investments, savings, ISA’s, cars, jewellery, antiques, paintings etc)
- Financial needs, obligations and responsibilities - both now and in the foreseeable future
- Standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown
- The age of each party and the length of the marriage/partnership
- Any disability of either party
- Contributions either party has made or is likely to make to the care and welfare of the family and the home
- The education any child was receiving
- Conduct which it would be unfair to disregard
- Any financial benefit which a party may lose the chance of acquiring (such as pension, life insurance, private health, inheritance etc)
It is important to remember that all factors are considered equally and that the above list is not exhausted as the courts must consider all the circumstances of each case.