Matrimonial Finances and Covid-19 Legal Q&A

Worry-busting divorce and finance questions, answered by SA Law expert family law solicitor Marilyn Bell.

What shall I do if I have already provided all of my financial information and received my spouse’s, but I think this has now changed?

It is always possible in matrimonial proceedings (whether you are negotiating voluntarily, or you are in court proceedings) to update financial information. It’s best to speak with your solicitor and explain what has changed and obtain advice on what updating disclosure needs to be provided.

What if the value of the family home has now gone down?

It is early days to know the longer-term effect on property prices but if property forming part of your matrimonial assets has gone down any negotiations are likely to need to be revisited.

I was planning to buy out my wife’s share of the house and obtain a mortgage. I have now been furloughed and I am facing redundancy.

If you have been furloughed the government will be paying 80% of your income up to £2,500 per month. Your total income will depend on whether your firm is making up the difference or this is all you are receiving. At the moment, furloughing is only running until the end of June 2020 although we do not know yet if the government will extend the period. If you do not yet have a mortgage offer you may need to make your application for a mortgage once it is clearer how your longer-term income will be affected.

What if I have a court order telling me that my house has to be sold by a certain date.

The Coronavirus situation is unprecedented. If you do not yet have buyer, it may not be possible for you to take any steps at the present time whilst viewings are not going ahead. You and your former spouse can agree a longer period in which the house must be sold. If you could not agree this it is still possible, even though a final order has been made, to make an application to the court to change the timing of when certain steps have to be taken.

In our matrimonial negotiations I was going to offset my share portfolio against my wife retaining the house. My portfolio has now fallen to 60% of its previous value.

If you are in negotiations you may want to pause at this stage as it is unlikely your wife will want to settle on the basis of your current portfolio valuation and you will not want to settle on its former value. It is likely to be necessary to review your portfolio valuation once we start to come out of lockdown.

I have had to take a salary reduction of 25%. I can no longer pay the maintenance that I was ordered by the court to pay to my ex-wife.

Court orders for maintenance can be varied (upwards or downwards) if either party’s financial circumstances (primarily their income and outgoings) change. In your case there has been a significant change. You could propose to your ex-wife that you pay her reduced maintenance and see if this can be agreed between you.

Will I still owe arrears of maintenance if I am paying a lower sum?

Arrears of maintenance to a former spouse will still be owing unless, as part of the agreement to pay a lower amount, you also agree that no arears will accrue.

CONTACT MARILYN

If you would like more information or advice relating to this article or a Family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Marilyn Bell on 01727 798066 or 07725 372256. 

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Every care is taken in the preparation of our articles. However, no responsibility can be accepted to any person who acts on the basis of information contained in them alone. You are recommended to obtain specific advice in respect of individual cases.