Does my partner's behaviour during the marriage matter in the divorce?

A question that is often asked by clients is whether the reason for the end of the marriage will be considered when deciding financial arrangements. It is often a surprise to them that their spouse's affair or bad behaviour (conduct) that caused the marriage to come to an end is very unlikely to affect a final financial settlement.

In this country conduct has little relevance to the Court unless the behaviour is so serious that it would be grossly unfair on one of the spouses to disregard it.

Personal misconduct

This amounts to someone's own personal bad behaviour. Cases in this category are rare and would have to include extremely serious physical or sexual assault causing injuries that impact on the victim's ability to work/manage their lives and which resulted in criminal convictions. Anything less serious would mean that the Court would be unlikely to take personal behaviour into account. 

Financial misconduct

This is usually when one spouse actively dissipates assets or acts recklessly in spending or gambling in the lead up to the divorce proceedings. There are cases to support this including a case where a husband spend family money on a £115,000 Ferrari. In those instances the Court may treat the party who is financially reckless as if they were still possession of those assets or cash and re-attribute them to the party when dividing assets. However, this is usually only the case when the financial misconduct is deliberately done to reduce the other spouse's share of the family assets.

Therefore, however strongly a party feels about their spouse's affair or other behaviour that caused the marriage to come to an end, the Court will almost always overlook this when considering the assets available for distribution in financial cases.

If your spouse acts badly within the actual divorce case itself, such as repeatedly delaying or refusing to provide information, or they do not negotiate sensibly, then a Judge can make costs orders against them. This means that they would not only have to pay their own legal fees but also be made to make contributions to the other party's legal fees.

To discuss what financial options you have in divorce proceedings, how the Court will divide your martial assets and what do next you should always take legal advice. Here at DPM Legal we can offer you an initial no obligation free meeting to talk through your options and next steps you may want to take.

Although every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this article is accurate and correct, the information provided does not constitute any form of advice.

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