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In law, there's no formula for a financial settlement. We have statutes and cases but if you go to court, the judge has a wide discretion.  That said, it's usually possible to advise what the likely outcomes will be, particularly where there are children.

Judicial discretion is what your judge on the day deems fair and reasonable in the circumstances of your case. Whilst it may seem unfair that your future is decided by someone who may have got out of bed the wrong side that morning, the discretion of judges enables them to treat each case on its own merits.

The leading case of Miller;McFarlane talks about sharing but emphasises the need for fairness which does not necessarily mean equality: eg a wife on a low income looking after young children may get more than half the capital.

A recent case in the Court of Appeal ordered a hospital consultant to give all the family assets (£550,000) to his ex-wife. This is unusual but the court concluded the husband was unlikely to pay maintenance for his family - he hadn't done so to date and was living overseas.  The husband had abdicated responsibility for his family and the court stepped in to protect them.

Another case this year demonstrated a tough approach to an ex-wife who persistently refused to work and relied on her high earning ex-husband to support her.  Despite the fact that she was in her 50s and hadn't worked for years, she was told to get a job.  Fairness rightly works both ways.

If you would like advice then contact our family team at ThomasHaywood.

Sarah Haywood is head of our family department.  Contact her on 01892 765013 orThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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