Q: Is my partner entitled to things that I owned before we married?
A: Maybe. Solcitors and divorce advice services talk a lot about ‘mingling‘ of assets when it comes to divorce. Anything acquired during a marriage is said to be a ‘marital’ or ‘matrimonial assets‘, while anything acquired before or after marriage is referred to as a ‘pre-marital‘, ‘non-matrimonial’ or ‘post-marital assets‘. Divorce financial settlements will take into account everything that was acquired during the marriage, but can include pre-marital assets.
You can request for pre-marital assets to be excluded from any financial settlement, but a judge will consider two things:
Whether the pre-marital assets ‘mingled’ in any way with marital assets, in which case the asset, or part of the asset, could be considered a marital asset. For example, using part of an inheritance to put down a deposit on a family home could draw the inheritance into question as a marital asset and it could therefore be split accordingly.
Or if after splitting the marital assets, the judge considers one party’s needs wouldn’t be met, they could ask to take into account pre-marital assets.
If either of these situations are valid, pre-marital assets may be subsequently divided.