How courts orders divide assets

The makeup of assets - including income, capital assets and pensions - varies from couple to couple.

When dividing the pot during a divorce, the court can use the powers of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 to implement certain orders.

Property Adjustment Order

The court may change the ownership of a property, either transferring from a joint name to a sole name or from one person to another. 

It doesn’t matter who the legal owner is, and where there is a mortgage the person receiving the property must obtain the provider’s consent.

Orders for Sale

The court can order the sale of property and then decide how the net sale proceeds are divided. 

Pension Share Orders

Some or all of a pension can be transferred from one partner to another. As no two pension situations are the same, it is important to seek actuarial pension advice in advance.

Lump Sum

A payment of money from one spouse to another, either in one or by instalments.

It is important to draft the order in such a way that instalments cannot be varied, and to achieve a financial clean break once paid.

Income Order

One party pays the other a monthly amount, usually where one partner was the income generator and the other the homemaker.

The court has an incredibly wide area of discretion here. 

Spousal maintenance orders are usually short-term, though either party can apply to change the amount or term.


While child maintenance is outside of the court’s scope and dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service, the court does have the power to “top-up” payments made by wealthy parents. 

The court can also make school fees orders to ensure that children remain in private education.

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