Is a 50:50 divorce settlement on the cards?

After a marriage of 20 years, how should we split up our assets?

Question: I have just separated from my wife after 20 years. My father died seven years ago and my wife and I are now trying to sort things out with minimal expense. I am still paying all the bills as before, but she is asking about the money left to me by my father. I have £10,000 on credit cards and £16,000 in the bank.
Also, our former family home was given to us as a wedding present. It is in my name and we are in the process of selling it. Am I right in thinking that I should pay off the credit cards, then split the rest of my cash in the bank with my wife and give her 50 per cent of the proceeds of the house sale?

Answer: It is difficult to comment without having all the facts. However, divorce settlements include a range of possible outcomes to make sure that each settlement is tailored to meet the needs of the couple concerned. A settlement would take into account matters such as whether or not you have children, any other assets you both have and whether you both work.
Assuming that the only resources are the savings and liabilities that you have mentioned and the house, then a reasonable settlement would be that which you propose.
The credit card debt is personal to you so it is better for you that this is repaid in full. Your wife is entitled to share in your inheritance, as it was received by you during a long marriage, and to a share of the property, given that it was your family home. The settlement you propose seems fair, but do seek legal advice about your options and how to make the agreement legally binding.
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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona is legal director in the real estate group of Foot Anstey LLP in Exeter (
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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