When there are little or no assets to divide it is quite possible for a couple to get divorced and not need the services of a solicitor. But, when there are pensions, assets and property to divide, it is almost always a good idea to seek expert legal advice, even if you and your ex-partner have agreed how the finances will work out.
For instance, if you have decided that the matrimonial property will be sold and the liquidated capital split 50/50, you will need to apply to the court if you wish to make that agreement legally binding.
A family lawyer will need to draft a ‘consent order’ which can then be ratified by the court and, when the sale goes through, both parties will be legally entitled to their agreed share of the asset.
A consent order can determine how money, property, savings and investments are divided and can even include arrangements for child maintenance.
When a couple cannot agree how the finances will be split after divorce, a judge will decide the division of assets – a financial order.
The financial claim on divorce can include requests for a lump sum payment, transfer of property ownership, a share of the pension pot, regular maintenance payments to help with living expenses, and expenses related to children, such as school fees etc.
If there is enough in the family pot, the judge will attempt to make a clean break order which will share everything out and leave both parties having no further financial commitment to each other.
Where the couple has children, the judge will always make arrangements for their welfare first. This could include agreeing a schedule of maintenance payments. However, if child maintenance cannot be agreed by the couple, or the judge feels the agreement is not appropriate, the case will be referred to the Child Support Agency.
Whatever type of order you are applying for, whether a consent order or a clean break financial settlement, there will be a standard cost related to the application. The process is distinct from the actual divorce petition and can take around six to 12 months to settle – longer if the parties cannot agree or do not fully disclose their financial circumstances to the court.
It is likely that the parties to the claim will have to attend a number of court hearings. In most disputed claims the judge will require proof that the parties have looked into, or undertaken mediation prior to making the application.
George Ide’s team of divorce solicitors in Chichester and Bognor Regis are here to help if you need legal advice regarding a financial settlement on divorce.
To find out more about our services for divorcing couples please click here. Alternatively, please click through to our staff profiles where you will find direct contact details of our family law team.