Dowry and divorce claims

 
 

The best London divorce solicitors are often consulted about dowry claims and divorce proceedings as the practice of providing a dowry remains relatively common amongst international families who are based in London.

 
A dowry is normally viewed as money or property that a wife brings with her to the marriage. On separation or divorce, the top London divorce solicitors are consulted over dowry disputes involving:
 

• Whether a dowry was paid, with it often being alleged that whilst it was agreed in principle that money, gold or jewellery would be handed over the items did not materialise whilst the wife and her family dispute this maintaining that the dowry was paid in full;

• Whether, when the wife left the husband, she took the dowry with her;

• If the dowry was made up of jewellery or gold (rather than cash) the value of the dowry. The value of the dowry can be disputed whether possession and the whereabouts of the items of jewellery or gold is in dispute or not. 

 
If a husband and wife cannot resolve a dowry dispute the English divorce court can hear arguments about what should happen with the dowry and can make a financial court order including:
 

• Orders for the return of dowry property (for example jewellery);

• Orders for the payment of a lump sum in lieu of the return of the dowry. 

 

How can OTS Solicitors help?   

 
If you have questions about dowries and separation or divorce or need legal advice on your financial settlement or representation in financial court proceedings then the divorce and family finance team at OTS Solicitors can help you.
 
For a confidential discussion on how OTS Solicitors can help you in negotiating a financial settlement or by providing representation in financial court proceedings please call us on 0203 959 9123 .
 

Prenuptial agreements and dowries 

 
Ideally, a husband and wife will have signed a prenuptial agreement that addresses what should happen to the dowry if their marriage breaks down. Whilst a prenuptial agreement is not legally binding on a divorce court in England it can carry significant weight with the court provided that:
 

• The prenuptial agreement was entered into at least 28 days prior to the marriage;

• The husband and wife provided financial disclosure of their assets and their value;

• Neither the husband nor wife were coerced  into signing the prenuptial agreement;

• The husband and wife both had the opportunity to take independent legal advice on the contents of the prenuptial agreement;

• The terms of the prenuptial agreement meet the husband and wife's needs.

 
If there is no prenuptial agreement in place then the next question the best London divorce solicitors will ask is whether a husband and wife signed a postnuptial agreement. If they did sign a postnuptial agreement, then the postnuptial agreement could carry a lot of weight when the divorce court decides what financial court orders to make and what should happen to the dowry.
 

The dowry and financial court proceedings 

 
If a husband and wife cannot reach an agreement over what should happen to the dowry or any other asset or property then potentially either of them could start financial court proceedings to ask the court to decide on what financial court orders to make. 
 
The best London divorce solicitors say that often a dowry, and the retention or the return of specific items of jewellery, can be very important to a spouse and their family. However, it is important that the financial value of the dowry, and any other items in dispute, be weighed up. Their value should be assessed against the likely cost of the financial court proceedings. A top London divorce solicitor should be able to provide an estimate of the likely costs involved in each stage of the financial court proceedings. That way a decision can be taken on whether the value of the dowry, and any other items in dispute, justifies the costs of the court proceedings.
 

Valuing a dowry

 
The best London divorce solicitors say that a divorce court needs to know the value of items before it can make orders in financial court proceedings. If a husband and wife cannot agree on the current value of the dowry then the court can order a valuation by an expert, for example, by a jeweller experienced in valuing items of jewellery for court proceedings. The current value of the dowry is important, rather than the value of the dowry at the time of the marriage or the value for insurance purposes.
 

Disputed dowries and financial court proceedings 

 

If a husband and wife are in dispute over who has the dowry then the top London divorce solicitors say that the divorce court can order that evidence be filed. For example, statements by the husband and wife and any relevant family members who have first-hand knowledge of the whereabouts of the dowry. The court can, at any evidential hearing, making a finding about the whereabouts of the dowry.
 
When trying to establish that a dowry was provided, it is important that documents be produced, such as:
 

• Photographs of the items; or

• Receipts for the purchase of jewellery or gold; or

• Home insurance schedules showing that items in the dowry were insured individually on the household insurance policy.  

 

Dowry financial court orders

 
The top London divorce solicitors advise that the divorce court can order:

 

• The return or retention of a dowry;

• The payment of a lump sum in lieu of the return or retention of the dowry. The lump sum can amount to more or less money than the value of the dowry.

When the divorce court is deciding what financial court orders to make in relation to the dowry, it will take a range of factors into account in accordance with section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Those factors include:

• The pre-marriage owned assets and the contributions to the marriage of the husband and wife; and 

• The length of the marriage; and 

• The husband and wife's needs.

 
Other section 25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 factors may carry greater weight, depending on individual circumstances, for example, the needs of a child of the relationship who is under the age of eighteen or the disability of the husband or wife.
 
The best London divorce solicitors say that the English court has discretion over what orders to make in relation to a dowry. There is no automatic rule that says that a dowry must be retained, returned or shared between a husband and wife. The divorce court will make a dowry order based on the orders that the judge assesses as fair after taking into account the factors in section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
 
The best London divorce solicitors recognise that when it comes to dowry payments and divorce it is not always about the financial value of the dowry but the sentimental attachment to items of jewellery or feelings of achieving justice. Those feelings and emotions can be the driving force behind the divorce and financial court proceedings. The top London divorce solicitors can help put the best dowry arguments forward whilst also focusing on providing cost effective legal advice on the full financial settlement options.   
 
How can OTS Solicitors help? 
 
For advice on dowries and divorce  or for help in reaching a financial settlement after a separation or divorce or for representation in financial court proceedings please call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 for a confidential discussion about how the divorce and family law team at OTS Solicitors can help you.  
 

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