When a husband and wife separate and the arrangement ends in acrimony, more often than not there is a dispute as to how property should be settled between them. If the argument that caused the separation did not originate in money matters, their post-split discussions almost certainly will. In such situations, an outcome is rarely cut and dried, and it can be difficult to determine who gets what. It is often left up to the discretion of magistrates if the parties cannot agree, and the magistrates can take into account various items of case law to help them make a decision. What is likely to be the outcome, therefore, if one individual receives a windfall after the de facto date of separation?
Time Is of the Essence
It's not uncommon for a considerable period of time to pass between an effective date of separation and a legal hearing to determine asset divisibility. During that time, one of the individuals may win a lottery or otherwise receive a significant amount of money or property as a windfall. You can be sure that this particular person would then want to argue against its inclusion in any asset pool, on the basis that it was received after separation and not when they were together.
Complexities Set In
However, some judges may not take that view and may want to look at the windfall inclusively. They are most likely to consider this if the asset was in place at the time of the hearing, even though it was not at the date of separation. It becomes even more complex if the windfall was related to the legacy of an ailing relative, as an example. In this case, it may be apparent that the other person in the relationship helped to contribute to the well-being of the relative when the relationship was in full swing and is therefore even more "eligible" to receive part of the amount bequeathed.
If it is clear that the relationship has broken down irretrievably, it makes sense to bring it to its legal termination as soon as is practical. In this case, orders can be made (if needed) to dissolve assets so everyone can move on without complications such as a windfall coming into the picture.
Tidying It Up
No matter which side of the argument you may be on, if you're unlucky enough to be involved in a broken relationship and asset acrimony, you should consult with family law solicitors as soon as possible.