Probably one of the biggest concerns when you are considering separating or divorce are the financial implications. This can be a major point of discussion during the divorce itself, and it is important to keep discussions over finances separate from those regarding the arrangements of your children.
The sorting out of the financial matters is called ‘ancillary relief proceedings’. The law relating to this area is quite flexible, and allows the Courts to look at each individual case and decide accordingly on the financial settlement.
Do I Need To Appoint A Solicitor?
No, however it may be better to instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf. Most matters can be settled without the need to go to Court and it will generally be better for the parties involved, and certainly less expensive.
Even if you have come to an informal agreement with your spouse, we strongly recommend you ask a solicitor to check the agreement. You could be putting yourself in a vulnerable position, and remember that both your circumstances could change in the future.
How Much Will A Solicitor Cost?
Costs can vary depending on your individual circumstances and requirements. See our family fees and charges section for more information.
If It Goes To Court, What Factors Do They Take Into Account?
If the financial matters do reach Court, they take into account the following factors:
- the welfare of any children of the family who are under 18 years old
- the income, earning capacity, property and resources of each person
- the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of each person
- the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage
- the age of each person, and the duration of the marriage
- any physical or mental disability
- the contribution made by each person to the welfare of the family, including looking after the home and bringing up children
- the conduct of each person, but only if it was so bad it would be unfair to ignore it
- any serious disadvantage to either person that would be caused by ending the marriage
Do I Have To Tell My Partner About All My Assets?
It is important to realise that the starting point in settling the finances, is a full and frank disclosure of all of your assets and liabilities, income and outgoings. If something is not declared, but discovered later, it will not help your case and could well count against you.
Are Financial Issues Dealt With Before The Divorce Is Finalised?
It is not necessary for financial discussions to be completed by the time the divorce is final. Often you will still be in the early discussion stages if the financial issues are complicated. However, it should at least be possible to resolve any immediate problems and make temporary maintenance arrangements.
What Happens To The House?
Usually the house is a family’s main asset, and in line with the need to consider the welfare of any children, the Court would consider it important to ensure that they have a suitable home. The issue of the house could be settled in a number of ways. It could be sold, and the proceeds divided between the parties, or one party could keep the house and pay a sum of money to the other. In some cases, one party stays in the house, with the other maintaining an interest in it that is given to them when the house is sold.
What Is Maintenance?
Maintenance is the term used when a settlement includes some form of regular payment from one party to another. This is often for the upkeep of a child. This is called Child Maintenance and can be either for a fixed term (for example until the child is 18), or ongoing and reviewed on a regular basis. If it is for the benefit of the wife, it is called Spousal Maintenance.
What About Pensions?
There has recently been a change in the laws relating to pensions and divorce. The law now allows pensions to be shared on divorce, but it remains a complicated area of law. Depending on the value of pension funds, you may need to take specialist financial advice, and we will work with you and your financial advisers to come up with the best options for you.