Noel Gallagher and Sara MacDonald to divorce after 22 years – Does the length of marriage matter?

Noel Gallagher, Manchester born former Oasis member, and his wife, Sara MacDonald have announced that they are to divorce following a marriage of 22 years. Here Weronika Husejk0 looks at how the length of a marriage can impact divorce proceedings.

The former couple married in 2011, having begun their relationship in 2001. They have two children together, Donovan, aged 15 and Sonny aged 12, both of whom are still dependent.

It is a commonly queried whether the length of a marriage has any relevance within a divorce financial settlement. The short answer to this question would be yes.

When a Judge considers a financial settlement, they must consider section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Section 25, amongst other things, specifies that a Judge must in particular have regard to the duration of the couples’ marriage.

What does this mean in practice? 

Generally speaking, a marriage usually falls into one of three brackets, that being either a short term, medium term or long term marriage.

A short term marriage would usually be considered to be one of up to 5 years. It should be noted however that a couple cannot divorce until they have been married for a minimum of 1 year. It is more likely that the financial settlement in a short term marriage will take into consideration pre acquired assets. A “clean break” may be considered to be more appropriate in these circumstances. However, this may not always be the case, especially if there are dependent children involved, in which case the focus would be on ensuring that the children’s needs are met.

A medium term marriage would generally be viewed as around 10 years.

Noel and Sara’s marriage would most likely be considered to be a long marriage on the basis that they began living together around 2001, their marriage being a total of 22 years. This is because a period of cohabitation that moves seamlessly into marriage will also be taken into account by the Courts, when considering the length of the marriage.

A longer marriage of this nature can often be more complex when it comes to the financial settlement. The Courts may take a different approach when dividing matrimonial assets in this type of case, compared to that of a short or medium term marriage. By way of example, it is far less likely for the Court to consider Noel and Sara’s respective contributions to the marriage. As a result, it may be that there will be an equal division of assets, unless it is necessary to move away from a 50-50 split to meet the need of one of the spouses.

It may be that Noel and Sara have a pre nuptial agreement, in which case this may be taken into consideration by the Courts, and therefore may have an impact upon the overall financial settlement.

In any event, the Court’s primary interest in their case will be in ensuring that the needs of both Donovan and Sonny are met.

If you need advice on this topic, or any other matters concerning divorce issues, please get in touch with our private child team at McAlister Family Law.

  • Weronika Husejko

    Trainee Solicitor