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Segment 001 of Trusts & Divorce Brochure-min
08 September 2023

A Trustee’s Guide to Divorce

An essential guide for trustees seeking to future-proof against or navigate through divorce.

Click here to read our guide. 

Our team of experts at Payne Hicks Beach has created an essential guide for trustees seeking to future-proof against or navigate through divorce.

The most recent statistics suggest that 42% of marriages in England and Wales will end in divorce. Amongst the high-net-worth demographic, the rate is even higher. This means that, for any given beneficial class of a trust, divorce is a real risk. Against that context, it is critical that divorce has a place on the succession planning agenda. If and when a settlor or beneficiary does face financial proceedings in connection with a divorce and trusts are involved, the response of the trustees can be decisive in determining the extent to which trust assets will be invaded or factored into a division of assets between spouses.

In this guide we provide an overview of the key legal issues trustees should be aware of when faced with a divorce involving trust assets or seeking to protect those assets from the impact of a potential future divorce.



Part I of this guide explains how marital assets will be dealt with generally by the courts of England and Wales following a divorce, in what is known as financial remedy proceedings. This includes a discussion of when the courts in England and Wales will have jurisdiction to deal with a divorce, how the courts determine the scope of the financial award to be made and a summary of the key procedural steps in divorce and financial remedy proceedings.


Part II looks at the grounds on which a spouse may seek to make a claim over a family trust in financial remedy proceedings.


Part III provides guidance on pre-emptive practical measures that trustees can implement to protect trust assets from a future divorce and to reduce the risk that trust assets will be divided in financial remedy proceedings.


Part IV discusses the key strategic considerations trustees should be aware of when responding to spousal claims to trust assets as part of financial remedy proceedings.

DISCLAIMER: This guide is not, and does not purport to be, a comprehensive text on this area of law. It is instead intended to serve as a aide-memoire or compass for trustees seeking to future-proof against or navigate through a divorce, indicating the direction of travel and the incidental hazards they may face as they do so.

For further information, please contact Jessica Henson, Clementine Dowley, or your usual contact in the Contentious Trust Team or, alternatively, telephone on 020 7465 4300

Click here to read the full guide

About the Author
Jessica Henson
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Ben Parry-Smith
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Clementine Dowley
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Luke Scarratt
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