One of the biggest challenges for people going through divorce is how to reach an agreement with their spouse on a fair way to divide up their finances. This includes dealing with properties, pensions, savings, debts, the household contents and personal belongings.
The free Wikivorce calculator is the only online calculator that attempts to calculate a fair split based on the individual circumstances of a divorcing couple.
This calculation is far from straightforward - there are no precise legal formulae, instead the law governing financial settlements is a patchwork of guidelines, principles and precedents built up over many years from the published judgements in actual divorce cases.
Therefore you must treat the results of the divorce calculator with caution. You should not base your agreement of the report from this calculator without taking independent legal advice.
What information is required to work out a fair settlement?
To use the calculator you first have to enter some important data regarding your marriage, your children and your financial circumstances.
It is well worth spending a little time just understanding why the calculator needs certain data, such as you length of marriage, but doesn't need other data, such as information on who was to blame for the break-up. The reason is simple - the calculator asks for the information that is relevant in determining financial fairness, and for example, the details behind who was to blame for the break-up are not relevant, from a legal perspective, to calculating a fair settlement.
Length Of Marriage
This is important because the guidelines on dealing with short, medium and long marriages are very different. In very simple terms, in a very short marriage (particularly with no children) you might expect each spouse to retain the assets they had before the marriage, with little or no sharing. In a long marriage then generally all assets and debts will be put into one pot, regardless of whose name they are in, and then that pot will be shared based on a set of legal criteria such as 'needs' and 'contribution'. Rather than have a hard cut off between the rules for short marriage and those for long marriage, we chose to implement the following rule. All asset growth (e.g. house price rise, pension growth) during the marriage is regarding as being in the marital pot, as are 100% of jointly owned assets. Assets in individual names are moved from being ringfenced for individuals to being in the marital pot at a rate of 10% per year. So if one spouse owns a house in their own name worth £100,000 at the date of the marriage and it is worth £150,000 after 5 years at the date of divorce then the £50,000 growth will be in the marital pot. Also of the original £100,000 then 50% (5 years x 10% per year) will be in the shared pot. So there would be £100,000 in the shared pot and £50,000 ring-fenced for the original owner. As stated earlier this approach of shifting 10% per year of assets into the shared pot is not a rule defined in law - it is a rule that we have encoded in the calculator so that it can deal in a somewhat sensible way with the difference between short, medium and long marriages.
Section 25 of the Matrimonial Clauses Act
Section 25 of the matrimonial clauses act defines a list of criteria to be used to assess fairness in the division of assets.
- The income, earning capacity, property and other resources which each spouse has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity it would be reasonable to expect the spouse to take steps to acquire
- The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each spouse has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
- The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
- The ages of each of the spouses and the length of the marriage
- Any physical or mental disability of either spouse
- The contributions which each spouse has made or is likely to make in the foreseeable future towards the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family
- The conduct of each spouse if considered relevant (this relates predominantly to financial misconduct, not adultery or negative behavior by one spouse towards another)
- The value to each spouse of any benefit they will lose the chance to acquire as a result of the divorce
- The financial needs of any child
- The income, earning capacity, property and other resources of any child
- Any physical or mental disability of any child
- The manner in which any child was being educated and in which the couple expected the child to be educated or trained
We have highlighted in bold text the elements which are factored into the divorce calculator. These are generally the factors which are easy to quantify. The calculator does not factor any of the following: disabilities for either spouse or a child; conduct or behaviour; non-financial contributions.
Probably the single most important factor used by lawyers and judges when assessing a financial settlement is to look at the needs of the respective spouses. A key principal is to divide the available assets (and income) in such a way as to prioritise meeting the needs (need for housing, food, clothes, schooling etc) of the children and of each of the parents. So assets are divided based on who needs them the most which is why the calculator looks at income and compares that to outgoings to see if there is a shortfall.
The Section 25 list above includes contributions as a criteria. However, it has been established through case law that the contribution of a home maker, child carer or lower earner is just as important as the financial contribution of the bread winner. The result is that in general husband and wife get given the same score for 'contribution' and so it does not have any real impact on the settlement. A rare exception is that in very high value cases if one person has made millions of pounds through some exceptional talent or endeavour then they may be recognised for that and may get to keep more than 50% of those exceptional earnings or assets.
A high priority is given to meeting the financial needs of the children. Therefore if one parent is the primary carer for the children then that can significantly impact the shape of an agreement. The calculator does try to take this into account based on the number of children and how many nights a week they spend with each parent.
Child and Spousal Maintenance
The calculator attempts to calculate an overall maintenance (which would include child and spousal maintenance) based on the underlying (but rather vague) legal principal behind Spousal Maintenance, which is that it should be paid based on how much per month the recipient needs and how much per month the payer can afford to pay.
Difficult aspects that the calculator cannot deal with
The calculator essentially calculates a percentage split of the assets and whether any maintenance is due. One example where it cannot provide the full answer is the common situation where one spouse wants to stay in the family home but they cannot afford to buy out the other spouse. So we may have calculated that the husband should have 35% of the equity in the property - but the wife may be unable to take out a mortgage in her name. In which case the solution may be a Mesher order where the husband leaves his equity in the property until the children are 18. Another example is inheritance. The calculator currently is not able to assess whether or not a particular inheritance is or is not part of the marital pot or is ring-fenced for one spouse.
Start Using The Calculator
You can use the calculator menu or this link to Start the Divorce Calculator.