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What are women entitled to in a divorce?

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While it is no longer always the case that men earn more than women, it is still often true that married heterosexual women have lower incomes and less in other assets, such as pensions, than their husbands. This can, understandably, cause women in such situations a lot of worry during divorce.

A good knowledge of women’s divorce rights can help to remove some of this worry by giving you a clear picture of what you may be entitled to. This includes financial entitlements, property rights and mothers’ rights. We cover all of these issues in this blog to help give women a head start when going through divorce.

It should be noted that this blog is not intended as legal advice and is for educational purposes only. Should you wish to discuss your specific situation, our divorce and separation solicitors will be happy to answer any queries you may have.

To access personal divorce advice for women from our team, please call one of our offices in Banbury, Bicester or Rugby, or simply fill out our enquiry form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Women’s financial rights in divorce

The starting point for dividing a married couple’s assets in divorce is that they would be entitled to an equal share of their combined assets i.e. a 50:50 split of everything. However, in practice, things are rarely this straightforward. This means that exactly what each spouse may be entitled to in a divorce financial settlement will depend on the unique circumstances of their case.

While most divorce settlements are agreed voluntarily between a couple without the need for contentious court proceedings, it is worth understanding what a court would look at when deciding the division of finances. This can provide a good starting point for what you may be entitled to.

A family court would consider factors such as:

  • Each spouse’s current income and other assets they own, as well as any debts and other liabilities
  • The earning capacity of each spouse
  • The current and expected future financial needs of each spouse
  • The needs of any children
  • The standard of living the couple enjoyed during their marriage
  • Any non-financial contributions each spouse made during the marriage, such as caring for children
  • The length of the marriage
  • Whether there was a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place and, if so, what the contents were

As this shows, there are many different aspects that can influence divorce rights for women in relation to finances, so expert advice is strongly recommended. Knowing what you may be entitled to as early as possible can help to set your expectations and may increase the likelihood that you will be able to agree a settlement voluntarily. Our team will be happy to advise on financial arrangements in divorce.

Women’s rights to the family home in divorce

One of the top concerns when it comes to life after divorce for women is typically around the family home. Many women are keen to stay in the family home, especially when there are school age children to care for.

What rights each spouse has to the family home will depend on the situation. If both spouses’ names are on the title deeds, then each will be entitled to a share of the property. Unless there is a legal agreement otherwise, each spouse would normally be entitled to half of the property, even if they contributed unequal amounts to the deposit, mortgage payments and other costs.

Even if one person’s name is not on the title deeds, they may still be able to establish a legal right to a share of the property in some circumstances. This is, therefore, another area where expert advice is essential.

Women’s pension rights in divorce

Something many people do not immediately realise is that pensions are normally considered part of a couple’s assets when it comes to reaching a financial settlement. This can be especially good news for women who may have little or no pension wealth of their own and who were relying on a share of their husband’s pension.

Generally, the value of the pension pot will be added to the couple’s combined assets and, if a pension income is already being drawn, this may also be considered. Options for dealing with pensions in divorce include a part of the pension pot being placed into a separate pension for the wife (known as ‘pension sharing’) or the wife being given a larger share of other assets (such as the family home) in exchange for surrendering her rights to her husband’s pension (known as ‘pension offsetting’).

It is often the case that pension wealth is the second largest asset a married couple has after their home, so this is something that must be considered in order to give divorced women the financial security they need for the future.

Mother’s rights in divorce

Historically, courts have often been said to favour mothers when it comes to who children will live with after divorce. However, these days it is becoming more common for parents to share care of their children, with this typically being decided amicably between the parents without the need for the courts to get involved.

Mothers’ rights in divorce in the UK will depend on the situation, in particular, who else may have legal ‘parental responsibility’ for a child. A child’s birth mother will always automatically have parental responsibility, but whether a second parent does is not always so straightforward. That said, if the child’s parents were married, the second parent will usually have parental responsibility as well.

Given how critical this issue can be for children’s wellbeing, it is highly recommended that mothers seek expert advice on divorce rights for women with children as soon as possible.

Get expert divorce advice for women in Banbury, Bicester and Rugby

If you would like to speak to a solicitor with expertise in women’s divorce rights, please get in touch with a member of our team.

We have offices in Banbury, Bicester and Rugby working with clients across Coventry and Warwickshire, the West Midlands, Oxfordshire and nationwide.