Divorce Financial Settlement Solicitors
When a marriage breaks down, there are a number of important areas to consider in relation to finances. This may include properties, savings, pensions and businesses. Our Legal 500 recognised divorce solicitors are here to guide you through the complex area of financial settlements after divorce to ensure you gain financial security. Whether you’re looking to protect your assets or gain your fair share, you’re in safe hands with Josiah-Lake Gardiner.
To book an initial consultation with our expert divorce financial settlement solicitors in London, simply call 020 3709 8975 or complete our online enquiry form.
An Introduction To Financial Settlements
After settling arrangements for the continuing care of any children, the area where there is most often dispute between a separating couple is in relation to the division of family wealth. A financial settlement is a legally binding agreement that sets out the division of assets between the separating couple, any ongoing financial maintenance by one to the other, and the severing of their financial relationship when their marriage ends.
Depending on the nature of the assets and how reasonable each spouse is willing to be, sorting out the division of their property, savings, pensions and amount of any maintenance can be a daunting task. This is particularly the case when they do not know where to start or what indeed each of them would be entitled to.
That is where our divorce financial settlement solicitors can help. Obtaining a financial settlement following a divorce is important because if parties separate without resolving their finances, issues may arise further down the line. For instance, a partner may come back years later to request a financial settlement by way of final order of the court, whether through maintenance or a lump sum payment. In England and Wales, even after a decree absolute of divorce or final dissolution order, a former spouse is still able to make financial claims against the other and there is no time limit in this regard.
That is why it is imperative financial matters are resolved as quickly as possible and that a binding court order stating what the financial settlement arrangements between the separating couple will be.
How Can We Achieve a Financial Settlement?
Reaching a financial settlement after divorce will depend largely on what your relationship with your spouse is and how complex your respective financial affairs are. You may be dealing with assets held abroad, inherited wealth, complicated pensions and business structures, assets held in trust from which the family spending is paid, and even the existence of pre or post-nuptial agreements.
Further, one party may be in ill health and unable to work. This scenario would bring into sharp focus the possibility of the other possibly needing to consider paying maintenance to them for life in lieu of a substantial capital settlement to provide for housing and living costs.
If the intention of the separating couple is to resolve financial matters quickly and amicably, they may initially attempt to agree matters directly, but the more complex their finances the less likely they would be able to resolve matters themselves.
Family mediation can assist some couples to reach a financial settlement with the assistance of a neutral third-party mediator. The mediator is not permitted to offer legal advice to either party, but it would still be helpful for the parties to have their own divorce financial settlement solicitors in the background to assist them.
If mediation is not successful or is not something that the parties are willing to consider, there are further options for the separating couple to explore to resolve matters out of court. These include the collaborative law process and direct face to face negotiating between the spouses and their lawyers at round table meetings.
Josiah-Lake Gardiner’s experienced family solicitors specialise in both the Collaborative Law process, which promotes an open and non-confrontational approach to relationship breakdown and conducting effective round table meetings.
Will I Need To Attend Court To Reach a Financial Settlement?
If the separating couple are able to agree a financial settlement between themselves whether directly, through mediation or divorce financial settlement solicitors, it is still important that their agreement is embodied in a financial order from the court. This provides both parties with certainty that the financial settlement agreed is legally enforceable should one of them in the future attempt to resile from such agreement.
There is no need to attend court in these circumstances, as a consent order would be filed with the court, alongside a summary of the financial position of each party and such order would be approved by a district judge. In very rare cases, the parties or their legal representatives may be required to attend court to explain why a certain financial settlement agreement has been, but these cases tend to be where either one or both parties has been unrepresented by solicitors.
About Financial Settlement Proceedings
If the parties are unable to reach a financial settlement outside of court, one of the spouses will need to make an application to the court to commence financial remedy proceedings. This will carry the aim of either agreeing a divorce financial settlement or having the court impose a binding financial settlement after divorce.
The separating couple are required to provide full financial disclosure with supporting documentary evidence and can (subject to the approval of the court) be made to provide additional information to ensure clarity of their financial positions. After an initial fact-finding gathering hearing, there is an opportunity for the parties to reach a financial agreement at court with the assistance of the judge before a final hearing is scheduled and an order made.
The courts are able to make the following orders:
1. Periodical payments (otherwise known as maintenance) for a spouse and any children of the family;
2. A lump sum order (a cash payment);
3. A property adjustment order including the sale or transfer of any property;
4. A pension sharing order (effectively splitting any pension assets between the spouses).
Could The Behaviour of My Partner Affect The Financial Settlement?
The simple answer to that is no, unless the behaviour complained of is of a financial nature. For instance, has one spouse been hiding assets in order to frustrate the other party? Has one party gambled away the family wealth without the knowledge of the other?
The agreement reached between parties out of court regarding their finances should be based on fairness, the length of their marriage, and having regard to the welfare of their children. The reason for the relationship breakdown (including adultery or unreasonable behaviour) would not typically be factored into whether one party should possibly be entitled to a larger share of the family wealth.
What If My Partner Is Hiding Their Wealth Offshore?
In a situation where your partner has international connections, we can advise you on choosing the best country in which to file for the divorce or civil partnership dissolution. If proceedings have already started in another jurisdiction, we can partner with family lawyers there to ensure that you are properly represented and that the court has a complete picture of the worldwide assets.
If proceedings are continuing in this jurisdiction and it is apparent that your partner is deliberately hiding assets offshore, we can take relevant action.
In this situation, we can seek freezing injunctions (including worldwide orders) where there is a concern that assets may be placed out of the court’s reach. Such actions would prevent the transfer, sale or disposal of any offshore assets. If court action is needed in the country in which the assets are being held in order to preserve them, we will partner with family lawyers overseas in this regard. The Family Court has various powers available to it when confronted with this situation including ordering the imprisonment of the offending party.
How Are Assets Split For Financial Settlements?
The judge dealing with the matter has the final decision on how the financial assets are divided. The court strives to decide what the fairest way to divide the assets is but arrangements regarding the children have the highest priority.
The way in which a family’s assets are divided on divorce financial settlement matters is complex and a whole range of factors are taken into account as follows:
(a) The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each spouse has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
(b) The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each spouse has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
(c) The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;
(d) The age of each spouse and the duration of the marriage;
(e) Any physical or mental disability of either of the spouses;
(f) The contributions which each spouse has made or is likely to make in the foreseeable future to the welfare of the family;
(g) The conduct of each spouse;
(h) The value of any benefit (including pension benefits) which the spouse will lose the chance to acquiring by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage.
Child maintenance is now dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service so that by consent child maintenance can be set out in an order of the court. However, this does not prevent either party from applying to the CMS after one year from the date of the order to have it carry out a formal assessment of the level of maintenance that should be paid. This assessment will have the effect of overriding and discharging the order of the court.
Renowned Divorce Financial Settlement Lawyers
Our expert divorce financial settlement lawyers will guide you through the process required to enable you to secure a financial settlement. Our experienced team of solicitors will always endeavour to minimise the emotional distress of relationship breakdown on all members of the family, with particular emphasis on assisting clients to minimise the emotional impact on any children.
With our help, it may be that you and your partner will be able to secure an out of court agreement. However, if you do have to go to court, our expert divorce financial settlement solicitors will be by your side to guide, advise and assist you at every stage. In this regard, we have been named one of the UK’s leading Family Law firms by the The Legal 500 for a number of years.
For more information, you should make an appointment with our expert divorce financial settlement lawyers to further discuss your particular circumstances.