When considering how the court divide the matrimonial assets, some consideration must be given to the income of the parties – covering the immediate, current position and into the future too. It is common for one party to have a new partner, often living together on a partial or full basis, by the time this consideration is made.
The court cannot simply redistribute a third party’s assets – it cannot order that this new partner contribute to maintenance payments or provide capital to a former spouse within the financial remedy proceedings. However, if a new partner is earning income and contributing towards the new “family unit”, it would be wrong if the court were to disregard this fact entirely.
The practice that has emerged through the courts, is for a judge to assess to what extent the new partner’s contributions reduce the family unit’s outgoings and expenses, thereby impacting on any potential spousal maintenance calculation. In these circumstances, the paying spouse would still be expected to share the living costs with their new partner, even if that partner was fabulously wealthy and meeting all the household expenses. Therefore, this would not result in the paying spouse being liable to pay their entire income to their “original” family.
Clearly the court will need to have some regard for the stability of that new relationship and the contributions that are being made. the court holds the authority to preserve the paying party’s ability to return the matter back to the court and vary the order, should the new relationship end in the near future.
It is worth noting that if a former partner remarries, they will lose their entitlement to maintenance altogether. If the new relationship has not yet progressed to marriage, the courts will not speculate on that happening and the potential impact that may have on finances. The courts may however be persuaded to reconsider the situation more carefully if a former spouse and their new partner are engaged or have been living together for a long time. This is a material fact that must be disclosed to the court as part of an individual’s ongoing duty to provide full and frank disclosure through financial remedy proceedings. If remarriage plans are not disclosed, then any order made is likely to be set aside by the court.
If you want to discuss how your spouse’s new partner may impact on your financial settlement, contact us today on 01234 889777 or 0207 177 8977 and arrange your free consultation with one of our specialist solicitors.