Couples going through a divorce or separation will likely face many stressful decisions. Some of the most daunting discussions, often leading to disputes, can be over financial assets and the financial future of any children. It will be in the best interest of all involved if an amicable decision can be made on these financial aspects of the divorce. Still, understandably, this is not always possible. Therefore, seeking the advice of an experienced Family Law Solicitor who will be able to advise you on your rights and find the right solution for you and your family is advisable.
In England and Wales, for a financial settlement to be effective, it must be made into a legally binding Court Order known as a Consent Order. This article highlights some frequently asked questions regarding financial settlements relating to divorce.
Do you have to go to court to reach a financial settlement?
No-fault divorce laws were introduced in England and Wales in April 2022. The change in legislation means that couples can now say their marriage has broken down rather than blaming one person for a reason for getting a divorce.
The idea is that the divorce process should now be quicker, less acrimonious, and hopefully cheaper in the long run. Typically, this also means that couples will not need to go to court to get divorced.
However, you will still need to sort out the finances, including what happens with the family home and other assets, when caring for children.
- Financial Settlements for Couples who can come to an agreement – Suppose both parties agree regarding the division of capital assets, liabilities, pensions, and income. In that case, a financial settlement agreement can be negotiated between the parties with the assistance of their solicitors and without the need to go to court. Reaching an amicable decision this way helps minimise the legal fees incurred by both sides and makes the process less stressful for all involved. Once you have reached an agreement, a solicitor will draft a consent order to make it legally binding. This legal document confirms both parties agree on the division of assets. The court will check the agreement to ensure that it is reasonable and endorsed by them to make it a legally binding order. However, you will not need to attend court.
- Financial Settlements for Couples who cannot reach an agreement – For separating couples who cannot reach an agreement in this way, for example, if one or both sides are uncooperative or unreasonable, the court will need to be involved in achieving an agreement. Courts will assess various factors and make a ruling on a settlement, and you will have less control over the eventual terms of the settlement as it will be down to the court to make the final decision.
How is a financial divorce settlement arrived at?
When looking at the financial agreement aspect of the divorce, the courts will assess how any capital should be divided and whether income should be shared.
The following factors are likely to be considered within the negotiation of a financial settlement:
- How long have you been married
- The financial needs of any children, including other factors that may affect their future wellbeing
- The current earnings of each party
- Future potential earning capacity of each party
- Any other assets, including pensions
- The standard of living the couple is used to during the marriage.
- Financial contributions that each party has made to the marriage
- Non-financial contributions that each party has made during the marriage, such as caring for the children and looking after the home
- Who pays for what before a Settlement is Agreed?
Pending the completion final financial settlement and obtaining a consent order from the court, you and your spouse should continue where possible to be responsible for your usual liabilities. However, if you believe your spouse should be paying more or you are not receiving the financial support you should be entitled to, it is possible to make any application to the court for interim maintenance, known as “Maintenance Pending Suit”.
What is a Maintenance Pending Suit?
A Maintenance Pending Suit (MPS) is interim financial support from your ex-partner that you can apply for to help you manage while your divorce proceedings are going through. Under section 22 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, the court can order one spouse to make regular payments to the other during the time between the date that a petition for divorce was made and the date that the decree absolute is pronounced.
Financial Law Solicitors Cheltenham – Legal Advice for Financial Settlements
Our specialist family law solicitors understand that communication between you and your former partner may be difficult. We can help you understand your legal rights and provide you with practical advice regarding all divorce financial settlement matters, consent orders, ancillary relief proceedings, financial orders, and clean break agreements. For confidential advice, regardless of the complexity of your situation, please call our Family Law team today in Gloucester and Cheltenham by calling 01452 521 286.
This blog post is not intended to be taken as advice or acted upon. If you are seeking legal advice, please get in touch with our team of solicitors