finance divisionReaching the financial settlement is often the most complicated part of a divorce, especially after a long marriage, or indeed where there are significant assets to be divided.

It is an incontrovertible fact that when you divide up jointly-owned assets, both parties recover  significantly less than they had before.

This will often end up with distressing financial implications and it is important the process is well thought out and indeed the costs implications fully explored at an early stage.

Clients frequently expect a judge to wield a magic wand and keep them in the same financial position they were in whilst still married, but sadly it cannot be done. Homes frequently need to be sold and pension funds divided.

What can we do to help?

We can advise on a potentially fair outcome. We also draft pre-marriage agreements and cohabitation agreements. We advise on  financial arrangements before and during marriage and on separation or divorce or termination of registered civil partnerships. We also assist couples living together in long- term relationships and often the complex range of legal remedies arising from breakdown of relationship.

We can review any existing agreements in respect of enforceability and can arrange appropriate Pre-nuptial agreements in advance of a wedding.

This is now considered an appropriate safeguard, in cases where one or more of the parties has significant assets. It can also be a delicate matter which requires both independent legal advice, and often a high degree of tact and diplomacy. It is only however by achieving appropriate financial disclosure, and taking appropriate legal advice that a fair outcome will be achieved in any subsequent divorce.

We have considerable experience in negotiating satisfactory financial settlements. We are also very experienced, both in mediation and particularly as traditionally experienced family solicitors, in dealing with complex financial affairs, including businesses, overseas investments and indeed family settlements.

The unmarried couple

There is a widespread misunderstanding that the law makes provision for justice after long relationships, particularly if there are children, where the parties do not actually marry. People often assume there is a concept of “Common-Law marriage”. Unfortunately it does not exist.

No matter how long an unmarried couple live together their possessions remain their own upon separation as during cohabitation. Only in by applying for what are known as equitable remedies in relation to property, often the house the parties have lived in, can a party try to remedy any clear unfairness in leaving the relationship with what they came into it.

If you are in this situation it is crucial to contact us for both expert advice and confirmation of what documentation you will need to progress an appropriate financial claim being made on you behalf.

Professional support from other experts

We can advise on obtaining complimentary specialist advice, both from independent financial experts and indeed from specialist Pension advisers where there are significant pension assets. With the new significant Pension changes coming into operation in April 2015, many people will require urgent advice on Pension options to ensure they obtain their optimum entitlement on their divorce.

Our main concern is to conduct robust negotiation but ensure an appropriate settlement is expedited, to avoid ongoing costs. Where there are children, their welfare will be a critical consideration.

For a fair settlement, there must be a clear picture of the assets. This process is called financial disclosure. Both Partners must make a full and frank disclosure of their financial position before negotiation via solicitors. Once the assets are known, and values agreed, a fair settlement may be determined, subject to your personal instructions and indeed formal approval by the court.

Most significant factors in settlement on Divorce: Ancilliary Relief

In any Divorce settlement the most important factors will be;

Contributions made by each party to the marriage financially or domestically;

Earnings and potential earnings-to include pensions;

Properties and other financial assets;

Ages and length of marriage;

Standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.

Interim financial arrangements

It may be possible to apply for an interim maintenance order for household bills and/or towards legal costs once divorce proceedings have been issued.

It might also be possible to apply to the court for an order to freeze assets or bank accounts.

It is certainly best to seek specialist advice as soon as is practicable.

Will I need to go to court?

If you do need to attend court it can be useful to know what to expect at an initial Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing or indeed final Ancilliary Relief hearing.

Arriving at Hearing

It is always important to attend at the time you are requested, particularly to allow time for negotiation with the other party and their lawyer. Being appropriately dressed and staying calm will be helpful too.

Format of Hearing of F.D.R. Appointment

You will be unlikely to have much to say at a preliminary hearing, but it will be helpful if you can remain calm and measured in anything you do need to say to either the Judge or opposing Counsel, who will normally be referrred to as Sir or Madam as appropriate.

The advocates normally outline the full position to the judge and explain any bundles of documents before matters get underway. Even if you are not called upon to say much at an early hearing it is still important to listen very carefully and refrain from unsolicited participation.

Final Hearing Of Ancilliary Relief

At a Final Hearing of a claim for Ancilliary relief it is likely you and your spouse/partner will be called as witnesses to give detailed evidence. It is again very important that you listen carefully and answer questions honestly and clearly, without conjecturing on things you cannot remember out of a misguided sense of being helpful. It is also important not to become angry if you are placed under pressure or attacked in cross examination.

All witnesses will be examined and cross examined by the advocates and questioned by the judge. Closing speeches are then made on the merits of the respective cases and the Judge in a final hearing will normally deliver his judgement at a slightly later date. This might be a written order sent out simultaneously to the parties, or sometimes there is a request to attend for the judgement to be given directly by the judge.

 Specialist Expert Family Law Advice

We believe in engaging in early neutral evaluation, with a view to resolving financial issues, without the need for formal determination by a court. There will however always, realistically, be cases where it is impossible to avoid court proceedings, in order to achieve an appropriate financial settlement.

Our expertise in combining excellent negotiation and mediation skills with tough litigation expertise means we can handle the most intricate financial affairs. In addition to vast experience in high value family law matters, we are accredited law society expert solicitors in family law. We believe we can also offer the expertise at far more competitive costs than those widely offered. It is of course for you to choose, but would suggest you compare the options directly with the Law Society Panel of expert accredited Family Law Solicitors.

Divorce or breakdown of civil partnership will most probably be one of the most emotionally and financially traumatic things you will ever experience. Money spent on getting mad, or money spent on getting even, will usually be money wasted. Practical legal advice at an early stage will never do any harm, and in most instances will have very positive and cost effective, results.