Will I Get A Smaller Financial Settlement If I Move In With A New Partner?

There are no hard and fast rules about how cohabitation with a new partner changes your settlement. But it is certainly a topical issue – finalising financial issues tends to take longer now than in the past because of court delays, removal of Legal Aid in most cases and other factors. Perhaps inevitably therefore, more people are deciding to move in with new partners before a final financial order is made. How this might affect the amount you are awarded will depend on the circumstances of your case. In our experience however, cohabitation does very often have a real impact on the final divorce settlement. We explain why below.

How Do Family Courts Reach Decisions About Financial Settlements?

Judges rely heavily on the so-called s25 checklist, contained in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 when deciding what kind of financial award to make in a divorce financial remedy case.

The factors they consider include:

  • the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
  • the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
  • the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage
  • the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage
  • the contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family

It is significant that the factors at the very top of the checklist include income, earning capacity and financial needs. There is every chance the amount of money you need – your ‘financial needs’ – will be less if you move in with a new partner. You won’t be running a household on your own for example. And your new partner may share childcare responsibilities enabling you to work longer hours and increase your earning capacity.

It follows from this that the amount a court awards you in a financial settlement may well be reduced in appropriate circumstances. Maintenance payments from your former spouse could be reduced for example or you may receive a smaller lump sum. Reductions like this will be more likely in cases where the matrimonial assets alone are insufficient to meet the needs of both spouses. 

Do I Have To Tell The Court About My New Living Arrangements?

Honesty is always the best policy. Failure to tell the court about new living arrangements could be viewed in the same way as a spouse trying to hide assets  – so that any settlement you reach (or any order the court makes) could be successfully challenged in the future. Ultimately this could lead to your divorce settlement being changed. Remember that cohabitation becomes less of an issue where there are plenty of assets in the matrimonial pot to meet the needs of the family after divorce.

Cohabitation After Divorce And Remarriage

In this article we have concentrated on the position of a spouse who moves in with a new partner during the divorce process. Things are different if you move in after divorce – that is, following a final financial order. At that point your ex can apply to stop paying maintenance or have the payments reduced. And if you decide to get married again maintenance from your ex will end.

Contact Us

For advice on any of the issues we have raised please call us on 01492 860420 or contact the team online. Gamlins Solicitors LLP has a network of offices across North Wales, and we can arrange an in-person appointment at the office that is most convenient for you or a remote appointment if you prefer.

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