Resolving financial issues following the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership can be an extremely stressful and a difficult process for many. Our Team has particular expertise in dealing with complex financial disputes involving the home, businesses, trust assets, maintenance, inheritances and pensions.
Various matters need to be taken into account when deciding how financial issues can be resolved. The first consideration needs to be the welfare of any children of the family. The following also need to be considered:
a) The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each spouse/civil partner has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future including, in the case of earning capacity, any increase in that capacity which would be in the opinion of the Court reasonable to expect a person to take steps to acquire.
b) The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each spouse/civil partner has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.
c) The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the
d) The ages of each spouse/civil partner and the duration of the marriage.
e) Any physical and mental disability of each spouse/civil partner.
f) Contributions which each spouse/civil partner has made or is likely to make in the foreseeable future to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family.
g) The conduct of each spouse/civil partner, if that conduct is such that it would be in the opinion of the Court to be inequitable to disregard.
h) The value to each spouse/civil partner of any benefit which one spouse/civil partner because of a divorce/dissolution will lose his chance of acquiring (most usually pension provision).
The aim of the Court is to achieve fairness. Often a key factor is the reasonable needs of yourself and your spouse/civil partner.
There are different methods available to help you resolve financial matters. These include:
1. Mediation: You and your spouse/civil partner meet with an independent Mediator who will help facilitate discussions. If you reach an agreement then the Mediator can draw up “Heads of Agreement” and you can then instruct a Solicitor to prepare a Consent Order so that the agreement can be converted into a legally binding Order.
2. Solicitor-led negotiation: Following the financial disclosure process you and your spouse/civil partner would use your solicitors to negotiate a settlement which can then be converted into a legally binding Order. The negotiation is largely based on letter and telephone communication but can be conducted by way of round-table discussion.
3. Court proceedings: If you and your spouse/civil partner are not able to reach an agreement between you Court proceedings can be issued. Generally speaking the process will involve the following stages:
• Exchange of financial disclosure.
• A First Appointment at court where a Judge will consider the case and determine what further information is needed.
• Gathering of any further information and complying with the timetable that has been set down by the court.
• A Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment where a Judge will consider the case and give an indication of what would be an appropriate settlement.
• If you and your spouse/civil parter are unable to reach an agreement following the above steps the matter will then be set down for a Final Hearing where a Judge will hear evidence and then decide how the financial issues should be resolved and make a Final Order accordingly.
It is worth noting that if an agreement can be reached during any of the stages above that agreement can be converted into a Consent Order and submitted to the Court for approval to conclude matters.
This is a brief explanation of how financial issues are dealt with and is not intended to be a substitute for tailored assistance to your circumstances.
Contact our Family Law Team today to arrange an appointment for further expert advice.