There are a number of misconceptions around what does and doesn’t constitute ‘Matrimonial Property’, which can make it confusing both for couples intending to marry, and for those whose marriage has sadly broken down. ‘Matrimonial Property’ can be difficult to define, and an online search is likely to provide conflicting answers, which may leave you unsure as to how best to proceed.

Whilst you may think that keeping assets or capital in your sole name prevents it from becoming matrimonial property, this is not correct, and maintaining separate finances is not enough to ensure that your spouse will not be able to make a claim against your property in the event of separation.

There are some things that may potentially be considered ‘Non-Matrimonial Property’, such as inheritance, or assets acquired by one party prior to the marriage or after separation. However, this is not guaranteed and should not be relied upon. The court can take into consideration any and all assets in both parties’ names when looking to ensure that both of your needs are met following separation. This includes properties, pensions, business interests, and capital, regardless of when these were acquired.

Both parties’ debts will also need to be taken into consideration, and even if a debt pre-dates the marriage, it is one of the factors that will be considered in the event of divorce.

If you are intending to marry but one or both of you has existing assets that you wish to protect, you should consider whether you would benefit from entering into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement. If you are already married, a Post-Nuptial Agreement can still assist. It may seem ‘un-romantic’ to enter into such an agreement, which might be off-putting to some couples, but in our experience, it is much better to enter into an agreement at the outset of your marriage whilst communication is good. If you later separate, emotions will be running high, and an agreement may no longer be possible without Court proceedings.

If you are already in the process of separating and are concerned about how assets will or should be divided between you, it is important to seek early legal advice to ensure that you are fully informed as to all of the options available to you, as well as how the Court might consider your matter and the assets involved.

At Ellisons our experienced Family Law Solicitors can assist with both Pre- and Post-Nuptial Agreements, as well as in the event of a relationship breakdown. Contact us today on 01206 764477 or email us at