When parties separate one option open to them is to enter into negotiations with their former spouse to deal with such matters as occupation of the matrimonial home, ownership and division of the matrimonial assets, including properties, pensions, savings, policies, incomes, claims and inherited assets, as well as resolving division of any debt and maintenance.
Agreement can only be achieved if both parties are willing to engage in such discussions. It is important that both parties have their own separate independent legal representation. A matrimonial agreement has the advantage of providing a conciliatory approach to the settlement of the financial affairs of separated spouses, as opposed to embarking upon contentious court proceedings.
A matrimonial agreement will not be binding and conclusive without each party having received full, proper and independent legal advice as to the nature and extent of their entitlement. If either party does not make full disclosure of all their assets to the other party, any matrimonial agreement signed under these circumstances can potentially be set aside by the Court.
Accordingly, before a matrimonial agreement can be drafted, a full and frank exchange of information must take place so that both parties are fully informed before entering into the agreement.
Discovery that is required to be exchanged would include but not limited to:
• Valuations of all properties
• Up to date mortgage redemption statements
• A P60 for the last 12-month period
• Statements for bank/ building society accounts for the last 12 months
• Payslips for the last 12 months
• Details of policies, ISAs, stocks, share, investments etc
• An up to date statement to include the Cash Equivalent Transfer Value of any pension
• Credit card statements, loan accounts, details of any pending claims, inheritances to be acquired or received during the marriage.
If negotiations are successful and agreement is reached, the terms and conditions of the agreement are drafted and each party signs in the presence of their own legal representative who will witness their signatures.
A matrimonial agreement, once it has been signed by both parties, has very significant legal and financial implications for each party, providing both parties are of sound mind when signing an agreement and providing full disclosure has been made under the discovery process and there have been no other deficiencies in the process of finalising the agreement.
When you marry you enter into a contract, recognised by law. When you sign a matrimonial agreement, you are entering into a contract to end many or all of those rights as well as your obligations and responsibilities acquired by marriage. You must be sure you are completely satisfied that everything you wish to have dealt with is covered by the agreement in a manner with which you are satisfied before you sign it. It is for this very reason that a Matrimonial Agreement is a very valuable document for parties separating.
The Family Department at Worthingtons represent clients globally in relation to all family matters. If you need advice or assistance in relation to any legal issue please contact us on [email protected].
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