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What is non-matrimonial property?

Non-matrimonial money or property can be defined as assets acquired outside a marriage. This can include gifts, inheritance or assets never mingled with matrimonial property or money in any way.

When separating or divorcing, one party may claim that money or property is ‘non-matrimonial’ and should not be shared.

Case law

The recent case of WX v HX 2021 summarises the recent law relating to non-matrimonial property, but as with many reported cases it focuses upon the very wealthy who have money to spare.

The couple were in their 60s with three adult children and had been married for 33 years. The wife had grown up in a wealthy family with income from a trust fund and had never had to worry about money.  The husband was a very successful investment banker. The wife’s trust fund (£14 million) had been managed by the husband. They also had other property and investments which had been acquired during the marriage.

Amongst the many arguments raised, the wife claimed her £14 million trust fund was non matrimonial property.  The husband said he had managed the wife’s trust fund as an investment banker and that it was therefore “matrimonialised”. His management of the trust fund wasn’t disputed by the wife, but she argued it had always been in her name and had been hers long before marriage.

The Judge excluded the wife’s trust fund as a matrimonial asset, therefore she was entitled to keep it and the husband had no claim against it.

The Judge said that the wife’s trust fund had not been “mingled” with their other assets. The fund had always remained in the wife’s name and had not been mixed with other wealth at all during the course of the long marriage; so for example, the couple had never used the money to buy a home together.

In most cases, although inheritance and contributions are often raised as issues for a Judge to take into account, the housing needs of any children, husband and wife will be more important factors for a Judge to consider than non-matrimonial property.

If you’re looking for advice and support with non-matrimonial property within a divorce, please contact our team for a confidential discussion on 0113 201 4902 or email family.law@emsleys.co.uk.

Gabbie  Clasper

Written by

Gabbie Clasper

Head of Family Law

Gabbie has over 20 years’ experience in family law. She has expert knowledge in complex issues including financial aspects following divorce; pre and post-nuptial agreements; cases with an international element; and civil partnerships. Gabbie is regularly instructed by clients based across the country and abroad. She...

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