Movers & Shakers

Money Matters: Empowering Women through Financial Awareness in Family Law

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the strides made towards gender equality, whilst recognising the work that remains.

07 Mar 2024

Team name
Yvonne Taiwo

Yvonne Taiwo

This year, the theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’, and we want to use this unique opportunity to inform women about their rights, and empower them with knowledge to protect themselves, particularly in matters relating to finances and family law.

Yvonne Taiwo, Solicitor, says: “Promoting financial inclusion is the first crucial step towards ensuring fairer outcomes for women.”

In the UK, family law encompasses many aspects including the division of assets, planning for the future and ensuring financial stability post-divorce & separation. Women often face financial disparities in divorce proceedings due to factors such as lower income earning potential, career interruptions due to care-giving responsibilities, and unequal distribution of assets.

Recent research has shown that women are likely to struggle more financially post separation as they are more likely, than men, to see their annual household income take a greater financial hit (from The Divorce Gap by Legal and General. We are not responsible for the content of external websites).

Janeet Jawanda, trainee Solicitor, says: “Many of the women we speak to are not aware of the ways in which the law can protect them, when they are either going through a divorce or separation.”

Below we will discuss common issues we see in relation to the family home, financial settlements and future planning.

Family Home

One key area of concern is the family home, often a significant asset in divorce settlements. Historically women have faced challenges in retaining ownership or receiving a fair share of the family home, however legal reforms have sought to address these disparities and promote equality. The laws surrounding the family home consider factors such as contributions to the household and the needs of any dependent children.

Most couples own their homes as joint tenants. On separation your solicitor can advise you on how to sever the joint tenancy to ensure your interest in the house is protected. If you’re married, it’s important that both your name and your partner’s name is on the house deeds. However, if your name is not on the deeds for the Family Home, a Home Rights Notice can be placed on the property by the ‘non-owning’ legal partner to show that they have rights in the property. The existence of Home Rights affords you and children of the family legal protections and security during periods of relationship breakdowns.

If you’re not married, and you’ve both contributed to the bills and mortgage, but only your partner’s name is on the property, it is worth having a conversation with your partner about adding your name to the house deeds. You don’t automatically have rights in the way married couples do, but if there is a breakdown in relationship, you may have a remedy under the law of Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustee Act 1996. TOLATA provides legal framework for resolving disputes regarding ownership and use of property owned by individuals who are unmarried or in a civil partnership.

Financial settlements

In cases where women have not dealt with the finances in a relationship, it can be daunting when considering what is a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ financial settlement. If you haven’t financially contributed to the household outgoings, it might be difficult to assess what your needs will be after separation.

Many women who come to see us do not know their partner’s income or do not have a complete understanding of their partner’s assets. Our advice in this situation is to seek legal advice in relation to financial settlement in divorce proceedings. We advise on full and frank financial disclosure of any bank accounts, investments, pensions and all forms of income and liabilities before reaching a settlement agreement. This will help give you a clearer picture of the financial situation of the marriage.

Whilst solicitors can always advise you on whether a settlement is fair, we would encourage all women (and men) who don’t have this knowledge, to take an interest in the financial circumstances of their relationship.

Future planning

It’s never too late to gain a better understanding of the finances in your relationship, and in the future, we hope to see more women feel financially confident.  Taking inspiration from the International Women’s Day campaign, there is empowerment in financial knowledge and women will be disadvantaged if they can’t express their financial needs well.

At the family law department at Mullis & Peake, we advocate for providing our clients with the right information to help them understand their rights, obligations and options during divorce and financial settlements.

M&P Commentary

Yvonne Taiwo, Solicitor in Mullis & Peake’s Family team, said:

I encourage and emphasise the equal participation of both partners in financial discussions and decision making processes. This helps to promote transparency and fairness in asset division and financial planning.”

On this Woman’s Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to empowering women through financial inclusion in family law. By raising awareness and providing support & resources, women can better navigate financial challenges, advocate for themselves and make informed decisions about their future.

OUR CLIENTS SAY ABOUT US

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