Divorce, or the dissolution of a civil partnership, is challenging. There are often many issues to resolve, and separating couples need to make arrangements for any children, assets, property and finances to ensure that every aspect of their joint life is considered.
There are a lot of difficult decisions to be made and, at a time when emotions can be running high, it is a stressful time for everyone involved.
One of the most common causes of conflict during a divorce or separation is disagreement over finances and financial obligations.
Many people mistakenly believe that a married couple’s finances are automatically covered as part of divorce or dissolution proceedings. However, this is not the case.
Divorce or dissolution is just the legal end of a marriage or civil partnership. Separating yourself financially is a distinct process, and is one that must be handled extremely carefully.
Seeking the advice of a specialist family lawyer is vital. An experienced legal professional will be able to guide you through the process involved and ensure your interests are protected in the short term while simultaneously safeguarding assets for the future.
In this blog, our specialist Financial Settlement Solicitors consider the steps you need to follow to successfully make a financial agreement on divorce.
Step one: Instruct an experienced family law solicitor.
Involving an experienced legal professional at an early stage is invaluable. Family lawyers are hugely familiar with the process of reaching a financial settlement for divorcing couples, or those dissolving a civil partnership, and will provide crucial guidance and support throughout.
There are many benefits to instructing a specialist solicitor when looking to reach a financial settlement with your ex-spouse. These include:
- Familiarity with the process. An experienced family solicitor has adeptly guided many clients, with different needs and in contrasting situations, to reach financial agreements that are in their best interests.
- Protection of your assets in the short term and for the future. A financial settlement sets out how matrimonial assets will be divided and also stops any person from making a financial claim against the other in the future. There have been numerous instances whereby ex-spouses have made a claim against the other even years after a divorce. A solicitor will ensure that a financial order is in your best interests, and is properly drafted so that any future inheritances, proceeds of a new business, or financial windfalls are protected from claims further down the line.
- Help with communication. Relations can often be strained between ex-partners. A solicitor helps to keep the lines of communication open and assists with negotiations between you and your ex-spouse.
- Taking care of the paperwork. A lot of paperwork is involved in the financial disclosure process, and many documents need to be provided to reach a settlement. Many of the forms that need to be completed are complex. This can be an added burden that a legal professional is trained to assist with.
- Experience in highlighting red flags. A family solicitor can identify any signs that a partner is trying to hide information or assets during the financial disclosure stage.
Step two: Financial disclosure.
Financial disclosure is the crucial first step in reaching a settlement agreement.
This stage involves both ex-spouses independently providing full and frank disclosure about their assets, finances and liabilities. This information is compiled in a financial statement (‘Form E’). This is then used as a reflection of matrimonial wealth and the starting point from which a ‘fair’ financial settlement is decided.
Form E requires each partner to provide information about the following:
- Money in bank accounts and savings accounts.
- Endowments and insurance.
- Shares and investments.
- Other assets.
- Any liabilities.
Step three: Reach a consensus.
Agreeing ‘who gets what’ is not easy. Questions such as ‘Who keeps the family home?’, ‘What happens to a partner’s pension?’ and ‘How much maintenance can I expect?’ are all difficult conversations to have, and reaching an agreement that is considered ‘fair’ by both parties can be extremely difficult.
A solicitor can help negotiate and advise you on what constitutes a ‘fair’ division of assets. In those cases where discussions between ex-partners reach an impasse, a solicitor can also recommend any appropriate next steps, such as mediation, to help break the deadlock.
If partners are still unable to reach a consensus, a solicitor can then help advise on the ‘contested route’ to a financial settlement on divorce, which is when parties apply for financial remedy proceedings and ask the court to decide on the arrangement for them.
Step four: Financial order.
A financial consent order is the final stage in a financial settlement with an ex-partner. This formalises the agreement between you and your ex-spouse and makes it legally binding.
Your solicitor will ensure all the paperwork is completed and the necessary documentation is provided and submit it to the court for approval.
If they think it is fair, a judge will approve the financial consent order, or, if they decide that it is unfair, they can ask you to change it.
Financial Settlement Solicitor
If you and your partner do not have any pre-existing provisional financial agreements in place, there are a lot of aspects to consider when separating or divorcing. During this time, disputes can arise, so seeking trustworthy, professional advice is essential.
At Bowsers Solicitors, we have assisted families across March, Wisbech and the rest of Fenland for decades, including advising on financial remedies, child maintenance and settlement agreements.
Bowsers Solicitors can assist you with:
- Financial arrangements during the separation process. Find out more about separation agreements here.
- Gathering and presenting information for financial disclosure (evidencing your income, assets and liabilities).
- Valuing pensions, business interests, property and trusts.
- Organising proposals of asset division relating to income.
Alternatively, you can fill in our contact form.