Facing the breakdown of a relationship, marriage or Civil Partnership can cause anxiety. You may be worried that you’ll be forced to move out of your home as well as other changes, such as the impact on your children’s happiness and quality of life.
Our Family Law team are experienced in dealing with the range of issues you may face at such times and how to address them to achieve the best outcome for you.
We understand that the need to reduce unnecessary conflict is important for your wellbeing and for maintaining stability in you and your children’s lives, so we aim to guide you through the process and to achieve a positive outcome as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Our specialist family solicitors are highly skilled at securing financial settlements that provide security and stability for you. Where there are children involved, we recognise the importance of providing for the family unit and the need to avoid unnecessary worry about struggling to support your children and provide a home.
We also understand that you may want to move on with your life as swiftly as possible. We ensure our cases our handled efficiently and to a high standard. However, an appropriate financial settlement is essential for your immediate and long-term future, so we will never rush you into a decision.
We offer legal and practical solutions, tailored to your specific needs allowing you to make informed choices about what steps you wish to take, ensuring the best outcome for you.
We are also conscious that there can be an added worry when facing unknown and hefty legal costs, so we can offer fixed fees in most cases to provide you with clarity of costs.
We appreciate that, when faced with the prospect of splitting up, there will be many questions you will want answered and addressed. We have therefore compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions to provide you with some general guidance. However, we always recommend you arrange a Free First Consultation meeting so that we can explore matters in more detail and offer you more tailored advice should you choose to instruct us.
For further information or to set up your initial appointment, please get in touch with our family law solicitors in Cardiff, Newport and Chepstow by giving us a call, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or filling in our enquiry form at the top of the page.
What our family solicitors in Cardiff, Newport and Chepstow can do for you
We can provide you with specialist family law advice across a wide range of matters, including financial arrangements upon divorce, dissolution, or separation.
Negotiating finances with your former partner can easily become the most contentious part of a divorce. Our aim is to take the stress off you as much as possible and to help you discuss your arrangements in a neutral, non-combative environment.
Our expert negotiation skills and dedication to Alternative Dispute Resolution means it’s highly unlikely you’ll need to attend court. We can provide advice in relation to family mediation and collaborative law as alternatives to court proceedings, with the aim of helping you avoid any unnecessary expense and stress.
Our expertise also includes:
- Advice on initially sorting out finances after separation, including how the bills and mortgage or rent will be paid and how both party’s day-to-day expenses will be managed
- Helping you access Alternative Dispute Resolution for a neutral, non-combative approach to making a financial arrangement
- Providing tailored advice on options for dividing assets, including complex assets involving things like overseas property and pensions
- Advising in relation to arrangements for spousal maintenance and child maintenance
- Drafting and reviewing your financial arrangement and applying to court to formalise it in the form of a consent order
- Conducting financial proceedings in court in the event you and your partner are unable to come to an agreement
- Enforcing any consent order or financial order in the event your partner fails to comply
What are financial settlements?
In England and Wales, marriage or civil partnership is viewed as a partnership with all money and assets brought into and acquired during the union forming part of that partnership. As such, both parties to a marriage or civil partnership can make financial claims against each other even after the divorce or dissolution is finalised.
Therefore, when two people divorce or dissolve their civil partnership, it is necessary to come to an agreement in the course of the proceedings about how their financial affairs will be divided and arranged so both parties can continue with their lives financially independent.
The final agreement is referred to as a financial settlement. The court has the power to order financial settlements based on what is a “fair” division and arrangement. However, the vast majority of couples are able to amicably come to an agreement out of court using Alternative Dispute Resolution methods such as family mediation and collaborative law.
Any arrangement made out of court can be made legally binding by the court in the form of a consent order, meaning either party can take the other to court later on if they fail to comply.
What should be included in a financial settlement?
The financial settlement should divide a separating couple’s finances. In some situations, this may be achieved by way of a “clean break” whereby the finances are divided so completely that both parties can move on with no financial obligations towards each other. Usually, this is the case where:
- The parties’ finances were always kept separate even before the relationship broke down, for example, they kept separate bank accounts
- Both parties have similar incomes and financial resources
- The parties have adult children who no longer depend upon them
- Both parties are able to financially support themselves without the other’s assistance
In many situations, one party will be financially “weaker” or there will be minor children involved. In these cases, it may be necessary to arrange for ongoing child maintenance or spousal maintenance meaning the financial split won’t be a “clean break”.
We always recommend that you are completely open and honest with your former partner about your financial resources so that the financial settlement truly reflects your needs and enables you to move forward in financial security.
The following are matters which should be dealt with in your financial settlement:
Division of money, assets, and liabilities
You and your former partner will need to agree how to divide significant assets, including:
- The family home
- Savings accounts
- Other property, such as buy-to-lets or holiday homes
- Personal belongings
- Family businesses
You also need to agree how your debts will be arranged, such as loans and overdrafts.
Financial settlements, even when arranged out of court, should always focus on fairness. Under family law, the starting point is a 50/50 split. However, in many situations this will not truly reflect the relationship between the separating couple. Both parties will have brought value to the relationship over the years, however, this need not be financial. For example, one party may have a lower income and earning capacity but is the primary caregiver for the children.
There are therefore a number of factors to take into account when deciding how to divide assets, including:
- The welfare of any children
- The couple’s standards of living before the divorce, dissolution, or separation
- Each party’s income, financial resources, and earning capacity
- The parties’ contributions to the household, both financial and non-financial
- Whether there’s any mental or physical disability present
- Whether either party will lose benefits as a result of the divorce, dissolution, or separation, such as pension benefits
- The parties’ conduct if it’s so unreasonable that you cannot disregard it
Where one party is financially “weaker” than the other, perhaps because they have a disability and cannot work or because they gave up work to look after children, it may be necessary to come to an agreement about spousal maintenance.
There are a few ways you can arrange spousal maintenance, including:
- Ongoing maintenance support – this is the most common option. One party agrees to pay the other weekly or monthly payments to help them maintain financial independence
- One off lump sum maintenance payment – if you and your former partner would prefer a “clean break” separation, you may prefer to negotiate a one off lump sum with no ongoing maintenance payments
After a couple separates, one party typically remains the primary care giver for any minor children while the other has regular contact. Where this is the case, it may be necessary to arrange child maintenance paid from the non-resident parent to the resident parent to help pay for the children’s day-to-day expenses.
Our family solicitors understand that the happiness and welfare of your children is likely to be your primary concern during a divorce, dissolution, or separation. Therefore, we’ll keep their best interests central to our advice at all stages of the negotiations.
How to make a financial settlement
Financial settlements are generally made in the course of divorce or dissolution proceedings so, once everything is finalised, the parties can start their lives afresh. There are two broad ways to make a financial settlement:
- Both parties agree out of court, whose only involvement is to make the settlement legally binding by way of a consent order
- Applying to court for a financial settlement – the court has a range of powers to make financial orders in the course of divorce or dissolution proceedings, including how assets should be divided and how much spousal or child maintenance should be payable
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Apart from exceptional circumstances, all separating couples must consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) before going to court. We also typically recommend that our clients try to resolve their matters via ADR as court proceedings tend to encourage conflict between parties as well as being expensive and stressful. Options for ADR include:
- Family mediation – this involves attending a meeting with your partner to negotiate your financial settlement under the guidance and supervision of a qualified mediator. The mediator doesn’t give you legal advice but facilitates your discussion and diffuses conflict if necessary. This is a popular option for couples with simple finances
- Collaborative law – this involves attending meetings with your partner and your respective collaborative lawyers to agree your financial settlement. You can also invite relevant experts such as independent financial advisors. Your lawyer can give you advice and negotiate on your behalf, making this ADR option popular with couples with more complex finances
- Arbitration – this involves attending a meeting where an arbitrator will consider your case and make an independent decision about how your finances should be arranged. Arbitration resembles court proceedings but is cheaper, less formal and the parties will only be bound by the decision if they both agree beforehand
Why instruct our family law solicitors?
Hpjv’s family team are leading solicitors in South Wales. Our clients’ needs are central to everything we do and we’re proud to share close links with our local community.
Our goal is to help families resolve their legal issues with minimal disruption or stress. Amongst our team we have Ashleigh Woodward who is a member of Resolution, an organisation dedicated to promoting Alternative Dispute Resolution over resorting to court proceedings.
We’ve also been awarded the Lexcel Accreditation for our dedication to client care and exceptional legal practice management.
Hpjv solicitors is independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Give our family solicitors in Cardiff, Newport and Chepstow a call today
For further information or to set up your initial appointment, please get in touch with our family law solicitors in Cardiff, Newport or Chepstow by giving us a call, emailing email@example.com, or filling in our enquiry form at the top of the page.