It comes as a surprise to many to learn that, although conduct can be taken into account by a court when deciding the financial settlement during a divorce, it has to be so serious, that to ignore it would be unfair.
Conduct is generally split into two categories, one of which is personal. This type of conduct doesn’t tend to have a financial effect and is very rarely taken into account by a court when it is deciding the financial settlement.
In order for a court to take personal conduct into account when it comes to the financial settlement, the conduct would have to be extremely serious in nature. Even if the conduct was very serious, a court only has to take it into account – in the end, it may not have any effect on your financial settlement and you may not be given a larger share of the assets or the family home because of it.
An example of personal conduct that could be serious enough to impact on a financial settlement, is violence against you or your children.
As there is less of a link between this personal misconduct and your finances, it will be up to the courts to decide how the financial settlement will reflect it.
Financial conduct is more commonly taken into account by courts when it comes to the financial settlement, as this type of conduct is more likely to have a direct link to the family finances.
Financial misconduct occurs when you or your spouse reduces your assets by, for example, spending a large amount of your family money before a financial settlement can be reached. This could include things such as gambling or even your spouse buying extravagant gifts for the person that they were having an affair with.
In these types of cases, if your claim is successful, the court’s aim will be to rectify the situation by continuing as if the spouse who has acted in this way still had the assets and deciding the financial settlement with this in mind.
If your spouse fails to comply with court orders or their conduct with regards to the proceedings causes problems, the court could decide that your spouse may have to contribute towards your costs. However, this will generally not result in a change to your financial settlement.
Courts will rarely take personal or financial conduct into account when deciding on your financial settlement. It’s important to obtain legal advice from an experienced solicitor if you intend to pursue a claim with regards to conduct. This is because if your claim is not reasonable, you could find yourself having to contribute towards your spouse’s costs.
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