Finances and Divorce

When couples decide to divorce or separate it can be extremely complicated as they often have many assets such as a house, business, pensions, savings or shares.

We are experienced in helping reach financial arrangements on family breakdown and can help find the best solution for you either through negotiation or Court.

Who will decide how our assets are split between myself and my spouse?

In many circumstances husband and wife may be able to agree on how their assets are divided between them. If agreement cannot be reached straight away, we could refer you to a Mediator, who will be neutral and qualified to mediate, who may be able to help you reach an agreement. However, this is not suitable for all cases, including those where one party feels very pressurised by the other. Alternatively you may instruct us to try to negotiate a financial settlement.

If a settlement cannot be reached then a court application might be made and eventually a Judge will decide how the family assets are to be divided. However, the parties are encouraged to negotiate a financial settlement during the court process. Therefore, it may be that an agreement is reached before the Judge is needed to make the final decision.

No matter how an agreement on the division of family property is reached, it is advisable to draw up a consent order. This order is checked by a Judge to make sure it seems fair to both parties before it becomes a binding court order.

If I need to make a court application what will the Judge consider?

If it becomes necessary for a Judge to decide on the division of the family property and finances there are certain factors that the Judge must bear in mind. The welfare of any children of the family is the first consideration. Among other things, the Judge will also need to take into account the income and earning capacity of each party, the needs and obligations of each party, the age of the parties and the length of their marriage. We can advise you which factors are going to be most important in your case.

How long will a court application take?

If a court application is made then you will need to attend court appointments on two or three occasions before a final hearing is arranged. The first court appointment should be between 12 and 16 weeks after the court application is made. There will also be several months between court appointments which must be fitted into the busy court timetable, so the process can therefore take time (unless you come to an agreement in the meantime).

What could happen to the family home?

In most cases the home is biggest family asset. There are many options available, so sale of the family home might not be the only option as some fear. However, whether the family home must be sold is ultimately dependent on the financial circumstances of the family as a whole.

We can also provide advice if your family home is rented rather than owned, as it may be possible to have the tenancy transferred into the name of one of the parties. In these situations we work closely with our Property lawyers to ensure you receive the best possible service.

Will I need to pay a monthly amount of money to my spouse as part of the financial settlement?

It is possible that this could be agreed between the parties or ordered by the court in some cases. It would be necessary to take a detailed look at the financial situation of the family to determine whether this might apply in your case.

If there are children of the family, then the parent no longer living with the children will be required to make payments for the children's benefit. Usually the minimum amount payable will be the latest Child Maintenance Service rate.

What about my savings and investments?

Most of the assets of each party are considered to be assets of the marriage, rather than assets of the individual. Any savings and investments therefore are likely to be taken into account when deciding how family assets should be divided.

What will happen if we have unequal pensions?

Usually pensions will be regarded as family assets, particularly after a long marriage. This means that the pension may be divided between the parties. This can be done in a number of ways, for example the pension may be split straight away so that each party effectively has their own pension, or part of the pension may be paid to the other party when the pension becomes due on retirement. This may not be appropriate in all cases.

What if one of us owns a business?

The business could be considered an asset of the marriage. Theoretically this could mean that a Judge could demand the business be sold or split between the parties. However, generally courts will not want to destroy businesses so they will try to find other ways around this. In order to keep your business you may have to pay maintenance, raise money on your business or allow your spouse to keep the family home.

These situations vary considerably from case to case and can be extremely complex so it is essential that you speak to a lawyer. We will work closely with our Commercial lawyers to ensure that all possibilities are covered and a suitable outcome is agreed.

If you need advice or support with a family matter contact us now.