When dealing with financial matters in a divorce or civil partnership dissolution both parties must provide full and frank financial disclosure of their financial positions. The duty of disclosure is an ongoing obligation and includes the duty to disclose any material changes in your financial situation after the initial disclosure has been given.
The Court can make a range of Orders including lump sum payments, transfers of capital assets, maintenance provision or pension sharing.
The financial arrangements can be settled on a Clean Break Basis which means once a settlement has been agreed and implemented the parties can make no further financial claim against each other.
Sometimes the Court will order ongoing maintenance provision in cases that are not suitable for a Clean Break.
Even if you reach an agreement out of Court, you still need to receive the approval of the Court by filing a `Consent Order’. The Court has the jurisdiction to reject any divorce settlement it does not think is fair or equitable and therefore even where agreements have been reached in mediation, you must seek legal advice to be sure that your agreement is likely of winning the approval of the Court before filing any documents.
If it proves impossible to come to an amicable out of court settlement, you will need detailed advice about how to issue an application with the Court to have the matter finally resolved.
The Court Process
To issue an application for a Financial Order, a ‘Form A’ must be filed with the Court. A court fee is payable. On that form, you will be asked to confirm whether you have attended a Mediation and Information Assessment Meeting to consider mediation as an option prior to court proceedings being issued.
Upon the Court issuing the application you will receive a timetable for your case making directions for the exchange of financial disclosure in a format known as a ‘Form E’ and the Court will fix a date for the Hearing called the FDA or `First Directions Appointment’.
At the FDA the District Judge (DJ) will identify the issues between you and your spouse and will make Directions or Orders to manage the case. For example, a typical direction made at an FDA may be for the formal valuations of assets to be carried out e.g. the value of a shareholding in a private company or the value of the family home if that is in dispute. The Court will then list the matter for what is known as a Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) appointment.
Both you and your (ex) partner will be required to attend Court together with your family lawyers in the hope that a financial settlement can be negotiated with the assistance of the District Judge. The Judge may give guidance to assist you in reaching an agreement, often indicating what he/she thinks would be a reasonable settlement in the circumstances of your particular case. If it is not possible to settle, there will be a Final Hearing listed at a later date to be heard before an independent District Judge. Any time after proceedings have been issued and up to the Final Hearing, if it is possible to reach an agreement voluntarily the family lawyers can submit a draft of the proposed Order (called a Consent Order) to the District Judge for his/her approval to bring the proceedings to an end.
The factors to be considered are as follows:
- Welfare of any children of the family
- Income, earning capacity, property and resources of each party now and in the foreseeable future
- Financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of each person now and in the foreseeable future
- Standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage or partnership
- Age of each person and the duration of the marriage or partnership
- Contribution made by each person to the welfare of the family including looking after the home and bringing up children
- Conduct of each person but only if it is so bad that it would be unfair to disregard it
- Physical or mental disability
This is deeply complex area that can end up getting very expensive, especially if it goes wrong. Here at Bushra Ali Solicitors we are able to help you every step of the way.
We do strongly advise to obtain legal advice to ensure you get things right.
We offer a range of packages to suit every budget and level of service required. We offer a consultation only package, an advice only package, a basic representation package and a premium representation package which offers a comprehensive end to end service, removing all the stress from the process for you and minimising the risk of your application being refused.
To find out how we can help you, book a call now with a member of our team. The calendar shows a range of dates and times available you can book a call for free to discuss your matter and learn more about how we can help you.