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S25 MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ACT 1973 (d)

(d) the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;


There is overlap between the various factors which the Act prescribes should be taken into consideration in ancillary relief applications in UK divorce law. The age of the parties and the length of the marriage may be also be reflected in their "needs for the foreseeable future" as mentioned above. Nevertheless, each of these factors is invariably important. A short childless marriage where both parties are in their twenties is a very different proposition from a thirty year marriage where both parties might be approaching the age of retirement.

In the case of the former a court might well take the view in ancillary relief proceedings that there should be a clean break between the parties and each should take out of it what he/she had put in. This will certainly be the case where both parties can earn their own living and where the prospective working life each has before them means that they can both plan for their own future quite easily - in terms of pensions, mortgages etc.

A longer marriage is much more difficult in that a court is unlikely to divide the property in terms of strict property rights and will be far more concerned about where each party is to live, what provision each has for retirement etc. In the case of a young married couple it may be appropriate to transfer the matrimonial home into the sole name of the wife - especially where there are young children - but where the husband is, say, in his fifties a court will recognise that he cannot easily get another mortgage and that the number of working years before him is limited. It will therefore be as concerned about the husband's future accommodation as about that of the wife and be less inclined to make a property transfer order in the wife's favour: an order for sale and for the division of the proceeds might be more suitable in these circumstances.

Similarly, a wife in her fifties who has not worked for many years will not normally be expected to return to work in the immediate future and a court in divorce ancillary relief proceedings will recognise the difficulties such a wife will face in becoming financially independent. A "clean break" might not be appropriate here and maintenance - for at least a limited period - might be more realistic.

 
 

 
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