One of the most important issues to deal with when getting divorced is your finances. As well as taking care of the costs of the divorce itself, you will also need to make arrangements for the finances of you and your spouse following your separation. If you have any children, they will also need to be taken into account when reaching a financial settlement.
Best case scenario
The best case scenario in terms of finances is that you and your spouse are able to come to an agreed settlement together over how to divide your joint assets. If possible, it is always best to keep things as friendly as possible and to come up with a solution that works for you both. If you are able to agree on what to do, your solicitor will be able to help you draw up a binding document that lays out the terms of what you have decided [a consent order] for formal approval by the court. Even if you’ve agreed terms with your ex, it’s really important to get that court order because otherwise you might find that any agreed settlement is simply not binding and your ex spouse could come back for another chunk of your money, property, or pension later on.
Unless you’re going down the family mediation or collaborative law route [see below], when it comes to the financial aspects of divorce, our lawyers will do their utmost to negotiate the settlement that is right for you.
If you find that you can’t agree with your spouse on what to do about your finances, you should speak to your divorce solicitor. They might recommend arranging for you to use the services of a family mediator. Two of our team are jointly qualified lawyer/family mediators – click here for more information about how family mediation works.
Collaborative law is another way of trying to resolve family law and divorce problems – like mediation, it’s one we recommend highly and two of our team are fully trained and accredited collaborative lawyers. Click here to find out more about the collaborative law divorce approach and see if it could suit you.
If negotiation, family mediation or collaborative law doesn’t work for you, our solicitors can help you apply to court to ask a judge to determine how to divide your joint finances. A fully contested court hearing is generally the last resort when it comes to making a decision, and we are pleased to say that we help over 95% of our divorce clients to reach a negotiated settlement and avoid the delay, stress and expense of a full court hearing – however it can sometimes help couples to overcome their differences and reach a final settlement.
No matter how you decide what to do with your finances, the court will still need to approve the agreement and make sure that it is a fair division of assets based on your particular circumstances.
There are a variety of issues the court will look at when deciding whether to accept your settlement. This includes your respective incomes, financial resources and property. It also looks at issues such as your future earning potential, any children under 18, your financial needs and responsibilities, your ages, your standard of living, whether either of you is disabled, your behaviour (where relevant), the contributions you have made to the home and family, the impact of the loss of benefits (such as pensions) on the ending of the marriage.
Full financial disclosure
Whichever route you take, one thing is essential – that both of you provide full, open and frank disclosure of all of your financial assets – everything from cash to property to pensions. Any attempt to hide assets from the other side, your solicitor or the court is an invitation to disaster – courts take such behaviour very seriously, and such failure to disclose will allow the other side to reopen any financial settlement – even if there is a final court order.
How long does a court application take?
Once you have made an application for the court to deal with your finances the court will normally set an appointment between 12 and 16 weeks after this date. You will need to attend this initial hearing. Before the appointment, you’ll need to make full financial disclosure.
This disclosure of your financial position must be made at least 35 days before you attend this appointment in order to allow time for the court and the other side to prepare. You will be asked to provide various financial documents, which will:
• Mortgage statements and other documents relating to your home (such as recent valuation information)
• Bank statements dating back 12 months for all of your accounts
• Copies of payslips and your P60
• Information on debts and assets
• Information on values of pensions and insurance policies
• Details of investments and expected inheritance
• Information about any company or other business you might own
Following the first appointment, and in the continued absence of any agreed settlement, the next hearing is the Financial Dispute Resolution [FDR] appointment – which you will again need to attend. At the FDR, the aim is to reach an agreement between parties. If you can’t agree, one final appointment will be scheduled, at which a final order will be made by the judge in a contested court hearing.
So the quicker you can agree on a financial settlement, the less time it will take to complete [and the lower your legal costs will be].
Contact our expert Divorce Solicitors first.
Whether you live close to one of our offices or would prefer an online divorce [our divorce solicitors can take your instructions by phone, e-mail or Skype video], we can help.For FREE initial phone advice and a full 30 minutes FREE first appointment, simply call us today. FREEPHONE 0800 1404544.
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