Divorce in most cases is a relatively uncomplicated process. However, whilst most matters can be resolved fairly swiftly, the financial settlement can often be a stumbling block.
This blog will therefore set about explaining the different approaches separating couples can take to their financial settlement, and they will apply to child arrangements as well which can also be problematic. These avenues can be pursued whether the couple is divorcing, dissolving a civil partnership or is a separating unmarried couple.
For divorcees and separating civil partners it is important to bear in mind that any agreement reached over financial arrangements will remain informal and unbinding until it becomes a court order. At this point, both parties are legally required to respect the agreement and your divorce solicitor can help you draft such orders based upon your eventual agreement. Unmarried couples by contrast must formalise their agreement in a deed of separation and again, we can help you to draw up one of these.
The ‘Kitchen table’ Approach
In separations with relatively few financial matters to consider, couples often find that they can find an agreement by meeting to talk through the issues. Nonetheless, it is important to obtain the legal advice of experienced divorce law solicitors before doing so. Beware however that although your financial affairs may be simple now, if you don’t get a clean break order from the court, your ex could come back to claim from you in the future. You may think this is unlikely, but we have come across a number of cases exactly like this – one involving a lottery winner, whose wife then decided to make a belated financial claim and the other involving an 85 year old man, with his own house who had been divorced for 10 years when his ex-wife made a financial claim against him.
We are big fans of family mediation – for your information, two of our family lawyers are trained up as jointly qualified family lawyers/mediators. Click here for more details of how family mediation could work for you.
Were also strong supporters of collaborative law – then you won’t be surprised to hear that three of our team are fully trained and accredited collaborative lawyers. For more information about collaborative law, click here.
Solicitor Led Negotiations
Perhaps the preferred and the most conventional method of settling finances during a separation is to negotiate an agreement ‘out of court’. Child arrangements can also be decided in this way.
Divorce Solicitors from both sides will lead the negotiations and will require full disclosure of financial information from both you and your ex-partner. It may be necessary to consult experts who can value certain assets such as:
• The family home
• A family business
Solicitors can usually reach a settlement through a series of letters by telephone, although sometimes a meeting between both parties will be required. Once an agreement is reached, the solicitors can formalise it in a court order.
The Court Process
In particularly complicated financial disputes, an application may be made to the court asking for them to set a schedule for reaching a financial settlement (otherwise known as an ‘application for financial remedy’). Below are some of the reasons one might make such an application for:
• There are particularly complex finances involved which may cause stalemate without the pressure of the court timetable
• Your ex-partner is clearly concealing or refusing to disclose certain assets. This could lead the court to compel your ex-partner to disclose their financial affairs fully
• You’re ex-partner is making unreasonable demands e.g. you may be entitled to half of the finances but you are being offered significantly lower share
If the parties fail to reach an agreement within the court timetable, there will ultimately be a final contested hearing before the judge, who will make a final and binding judgement.
The Financial Dispute Resolution hearing is the part of the court proceedings that allows parties to negotiate a settlement in court with the contribution of a judge and many couple s find this useful.
The best way of settling your finances post-separation is entirely dependent on your personal circumstances. Bonallack & Bishop’s experienced family solicitors can help you find the right method and get the best out of your financial settlement.
Looking for specialist Divorce Law Solicitors?
For free phone advice, an out of hours divorce advice line an and a free informal half hour meeting at a time to suit you, simply call us on the following numbers;
SALISBURY  422300
AMESBURY  622992
ANDOVER  364433