No-one expects to get divorced, but the sad reality is that 50% of marriages end in divorce.
Once a decision has been made to separate and get divorced, it is important to think about the financial consequences of your separation and decide what to do with your assets, such as joint bank accounts, cars, houses or savings. Even where you have limited assets, or do not own your own home, it is important to discuss your finances, especially where one party earns more than the other, or where one party has perhaps given up work to look after the children. It is important to discuss finances, to ensure that both parties are provided for following the end of the relationship.
It is important to come to an agreement as this will ensure that neither party can make any further claims against the other should their financial circumstances change.
What are my options?
Agreeing matters by consent:
Where possible, it is always best to agree matters by consent. If you are able to agree a fair financial settlement with your partner, a solicitor can draft this into an order and send a copy to the Court with a statement of information and the Court will return a sealed and legally binding order.
Mediation is a very useful tool to help couples come to an agreement on their finances. An independent mediator will discuss your finances with you and aid you both to come to an agreement, or at least narrow down the issues in contention. As above, if an agreement is reached during mediation, this can be drafted into a consent order for court approval.
Negotiations through solicitors:
If you have not been able to come to an agreement through mediation, another option may be to try to come to an agreement through solicitors, who can try to negotiate a settlement with their counterpart acting for your partner. If it is possible to reach an agreement, this can be formalized into a court order, although sometimes it is not possible for parties to come to any form of agreement.
Issuing proceedings is always a last resort, but where it is not possible to reach an agreement between yourselves, it may be necessary.
If you decide that it is necessary to issue court proceedings, it is recommended that you seek legal advice, as a financial settlement may have long term effects on your finances, so it is important to ensure your position is protected. In order to issue proceedings, your solicitor will complete Form A and send this to the Court, who will process the application and list the matter for a first court hearing, called a First Directions Appointment (FDA).
The court will also set out a timetable for the matter, including the exchange of financial disclosure.
At the FDA, the judge will look over all the information provided and try to narrow down the issues to assist the parties in coming to an agreement themselves. If it is not possible to reach an agreement, the Court will list the matter for another hearing called a Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment (FDR).
Before the FDR, both parties will make offers to each other to settle the matter and copies of these offers will be provided to the Court on the day of the hearing.
At the FDR, the judge will assist parties further to come to an agreement and if not, will give an initial indication of potential conclusions that the Court would make, and list the matter for a final hearing. The majority of matters will settle at this point, and only a small minority will actually proceed to a final hearing.
However, for those matters that could not settle at FDR, the matter will proceed to final hearing and both sides will put forward their proposals for settlement. The Court will hear evidence from both parties, review all the disclosure and attempts to settle the matter and come to a final decision which is legally binding on all parties.
Get in Touch
If you would like to book a meeting with our team to discuss financial proceedings, please call us on 0118 958 and ask for Anthony Raumann, or you can email [email protected].