Dealing with finances on divorce does not necessarily mean that things have to be contentious. It is entirely possible that you and your spouse may be able to agree the terms of financial settlement without issuing court proceedings. There are also other options, including arbitration, mediation, and collaborative law available to you.
Once you have agreed the terms of settlement with your spouse (which we can help you do), they will be recorded in a document called a Consent Order, which the court will need to approve. However, sometimes an application to court is necessary if matters cannot be agreed. Our solicitors are highly experienced in dealing with contested financial proceedings arising from a divorce and are here to help.
We often advise business owners, farmers and individuals with offshore assets based in foreign jurisdictions and the spouses of such individuals. We also have extensive, well-established connections with other local professionals such as financial advisors, divorce coaches, therapists and accountants who may be needed to provide you with support, or expert guidance through the process, particularly if your financial circumstances are more complex.
The factors that the Family Court will consider on determining financial provision are set out in Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and include:
The first thing to do is to establish what assets are matrimonial and what are non-matrimonial. Then an assessment will need to be made as to whether the normal ‘sharing principle’ (50/50) applies or whether needs or the other factors listed above justify a departure from this starting point.
It is also possible for a third party to claim an interest in assets that the Family Court can consider, and subsequently join proceedings as what is known as ‘an intervenor’. This is only normally the case where there is an asset – such as a farm or a house – which is occupied, used or has been contributed to by that third party.
A common worry for those in farming families, or business owners, is that their spouse will be entitled to a share of this asset on divorce, even where the interest was inherited. However, generally, the court will treat inherited assets as non-matrimonial. There are exceptions to this and it requires specialist legal advice, which we can help you with, to protect or pursue such an asset. For example, property that is transferred into joint names with a spouse is normally treated as a matrimonial asset. It is always possible to try and protect assets such as farms or properties which a third party has contributed to in the terms of a nuptial agreement.
Generally, the court will try to achieve a clean break. This ends the financial ties between the parties and allows them to be financially independent. However, in some cases, this is not appropriate and ongoing spousal maintenance may be ordered. The court then also has the discretion to make financial awards in relation to capital assets (property, bank accounts, savings and otherwise) and pensions including lump sum payments, property transfers, periodical payments and pension sharing orders.
Child maintenance is treated a separate issue, and the Child Maintenance Service has primary jurisdiction for assessing and enforcing child maintenance.
Yes – finances on dissolution of civil partnership are dealt with in the same way as on divorce.
Mrs H required assistance with a divorce and financial matter following separation from her husband. The matter was complex as there were a number of different assets in different jurisdictions and her husband was not forthcoming in his disclosure. At this point, Mrs H contacted James Osborne, Family Law Partner, for guidance, understanding and advice.view full case study