Matrimonial Agreement- What it involves and when should I get one?

What is a Matrimonial Agreement?

When a couple are in the process of getting divorced, it is essential to sort out the financial side the marriage. In order to accurately separate your finances before the marriage is dissolved, the parties are encouraged to reach a financial settlement, often referred to as a Matrimonial Agreement. This Agreement establishes and outlines how the financial and valuable assets of the marriage should be portioned.

With regards to assets, this can include investments, property, savings, and cars. It may also refer to other elements of the marriage which Divorce will affect, such as contact with children, and maintenance for children.

It is an out of court settlement which allows the parties to take control of the division of assets compared to an in-court settlements, known as Ancillary Relief. This prohibits the parties from exercising the same depth of control than what a Matrimonial Agreement would permit.

Once the Matrimonial Agreement is concluded and signed by both parties to the marriage, all current financial ties and future ties severed, and the parties do not owe each other a further financial duty. Once it is approved and lodged with the Divorce, the Matrimonial Agreement is made a rule of the Court and is therefore legally binding on both parties.

When should I look into one?

If you are considering a Divorce based on 2 years separation with consent, and the two years has not yet approached, this provides ample time for the Matrimonial Agreement to be concluded. Once, the 2-year date approaches, the Matrimonial Agreement will be finalised and the Divorce can be lodged. Essentially, this saves time and is more economical.

If you are considering a Divorce and the 2-year date has not approached, you and your partner should seek independent legal advice as to the Matrimonial Agreement process and what is involved to successfully and fairly divide the assets.

Alternatively, if the ground for divorce is not based on 2- years separation with consent, a Matrimonial Agreement should be made any time before the Divorce is lodged.

What is involved?

To ensure a Matrimonial Agreement is administered and concluded fairly, full disclosure or discovery is required by both parties. This permits the spouses legal representative or solicitor to protect their client’s financial interests effectively and ensure that the agreement is mutual and not one sided. The client will be asked to disclose relevant information and what is applicable to them. Such documents of disclosure include property, bank statements of all accounts, PayPal accounts, saving plans, policies, valuations, sources of income to include benefits, loans, gifts, tax returns, and wage slips.

Depending on the individual case and marriage, there will be different factors involved when a solicitor advises their client when it comes to dividing the matrimonial assets. These include earning capacity, financial needs, standard of living, physical or mental impairments of either spouse or children, contributions made, and conduct of spouse.

 What if my spouse and I are not amicable or a mutual agreement cannot be reached?

If both spouses cannot reach an agreement, the alternative is ancillary relief if there are any financial assets arising from the marriage. Ancillary Relief is when the Court get involved and take control of the division of the matrimonial and financial assets. The Court consider a range of various factors including contributions made by each spouse throughput the duration of the marriage.

Please see our expert article on ancillary relief already published on the website for more information.

Matrimonial Agreement- What it involves and when should I get one? was last modified: March 27th, 2023 by Danielle Garrity