How long does it take to sort out our Finances?
The aim is always to reach a settlement through negotiation where possible. This potentially reduces costs, time and conflict. Everyone’s situation is different, so some agreements can be reached at the start of a divorce and others during the process. However, as each case is unique, at hpjv solicitors we aim to offer a realistic time frame at the initial meeting and will keep you updated throughout. The Court however cannot approve a financial agreement until the Decree Nisi of Divorce has been granted.
If an agreement cannot be secured through negotiation and the need arises to apply to the Court to secure a financial order, then the Court sets out a strict time frame for the exchanging of documents and attendance at Court hearings. This process usually takes around 6 months to final Financial Remedy Order. However, at any stage in this process agreements can be reached (with legal advice) thus the need to proceed to a final hearing will no longer be required.
What is a Consent Order?
A Consent Order is a financial agreement that has been reached between parties to the proceedings in Divorce or Dissolution of Civil Partnership, the agreement having been reached following negotiation and entered into with both parties’ consent. The Order may address the transfer of the family home, division of savings accounts and spousal maintenance.
The document setting out the Agreement should be drafted by a specialised family lawyer, signed by both parties to the Agreement and sent to the Court for the Judge to consider and to approve the settlement where appropriate. The order is then legally binding for both parties.
How do I start trying to secure a financial settlement?
At hpjv solicitors we aim to secure the best outcome for you through negotiation, to reduce unnecessary stress and cost to you at what is often already an acrimonious time. We would never advise on a settlement which was not appropriate for you.
To commence the process, you should collate, and stock take all your financial assets, obtaining the necessary paperwork so that we can evaluate the extent of the assets you may hold, whether in your sole name or held jointly. We would then be in position to commence discussions with you regarding mutual disclosure of documents with your ex-partner or their solicitor.
What happens if my ex-partner refuses to reach an agreement between us?
The Court expects parties to a divorce or civil partnership to reach an agreement through negotiation, negotiation through your respective solicitors, through Mediation, or both. This is because it can reduce delays, save legal fees and reduce conflict.
In some cases, an agreement may not be possible. If one party refuses to negotiate, we can help to secure a Financial Order.
The process involves you applying to the Court to seek an application for a Financial Remedy Order. This could include an application to seek a sale or transfer of the family home or a lump sum payment. If this step is required, then the Court will set a timetable for each party to disclose their financial documents setting out the extent of their assets. A statement known as a Form E must be completed and exchanged with the other party or their lawyer.
The Court also schedules the case for at least three Court hearings: First Directions Appointment (FDA) Financial Dispute Resolutions Hearing (FDR) and Final Hearing. Most cases can be resolved during the process, which eliminates the need for a Final Hearing.
Can I finalise the divorce and deal with a financial settlement after?
Yes, you can secure the Decree Absolute of divorce and still make a financial claim against your ex-spouse, however, we would recommend that you seek legal advice before finalising the divorce if there are assets to secure. You may lose your right to a pension claim, spousal maintenance claim or your ex-spouse may die before a settlement is in place, resulting in you not benefiting from the estate.
What happens if I die before securing a financial settlement?
We always recommend that after separation a person seeks advice on making a Will or altering an existing Will if it includes your ex-partner. This is because if you died without a Will in place (intestate) and you were still married yet to finalise the Divorce and secure a financial settlement, your assets would pass to your ex-partner.
Likewise, should you have an existing Will, it must be updated once the Decree Absolute has been granted, as this affects the validity of the Will.
At hpjv solicitors our Wills & Probate team can offer advice on all aspects of making a Will and offer an Free First Consultation.
What should I do if my ex-partner threatens to take the money out of his bank account to stop me from having it as part of a financial settlement?
If a party intends to remove money or assets to prevent the other party from claiming it within divorce or civil partnership proceedings, then rest assured there is action that can be taken which, if necessary, can involve an immediate application to the Court to freeze the assets.
However, if you believe this will not be possible then other options and practical safeguards can also be explored if appropriate, before a Court application is pursued. However, we always advise that you take urgent legal advice to protect all assets pending a financial settlement being reached.
What happens to my pension fund when going through a divorce?
If one or both parties in the marriage has a pension fund, then it is considered a marital asset, which will be taken into account when calculating all assets for the purpose of securing a Financial Settlement or Order.
How a pension can be divided varies and can include Pension Sharing, which means the pension fund can be split allowing the other party who is the non-fund holder to have a percentage share of the fund. Other assets may be paid or transferred to one party to offset the value of a pension fund held by the other party.
The consideration of Pension funds in financial cases is a complex area. How a pension fund is treated varies in each individual case, we would recommend you seek legal advice from one of our Family team to discuss your options.
How much spousal maintenance should I pay?
There is no pre-determined amount. Whether spousal maintenance should be paid, at what level and for how long depends on the circumstances of each individual case. Maintenance payments for children are separate and would be dealt with first and then the disposable income of each spouse should be evaluated. The needs of each spouse, other assets, earning capacity, age, ability to work, their working hours, their standard of living prior to separation are all factors to be taken into consideration. An evaluation on a case by case basis is necessary.