Finances, property and civil partnerships

Sorting out finances tends to be the most complex part of unravelling a marriage or civil partnership and is often the most acrimonious. Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer to the big question of “What am I entitled to?”

You can agree a settlement between you without involving lawyers or the courts, but be careful; Divorce law is full of traps for the unwary. In many cases specialist legal advice can save you many thousands of pounds.

The starting point to discussions is to collect together all financial information, including important evidence such as each other’s earning and mortgage capacity and their cost of re-housing.  Pensions valuations will also be required and it is a good idea to ask for this from your pension provider as soon as possible as a valuation can take several weeks to deliver.

The court’s overriding objective in resolving finances will be to be fair to both sides.  If there are any minor and dependant children then their needs for secure accommodation will become paramount, even if this means being unfair to the other parent. When there is enough money and assets to go round then equality will often be the fairest outcome.

Each case is different and all the relevant factors will be taken into account to include

  • the ages and health of each party
  • any children of the relationship
  • respective contributions made by either party
  • the parties’ respective earning capacity
  • values of any pensions
  • future inheritances will only be relevant where there is a degree of certainty as to the amount to be inherited and when it will be received
  • the standard of living within the marriage although this does not need to be matched

It should be borne in mind that pensions are often the parties largest asset and this becomes more relevant the older the couple and the longer the marriage or partnership.

Most couples manage eventually to reach an agreement with the help of their lawyers.  This will then be written up and sent to the court as a consent order. It is not finalised until a judge has confirmed her or his agreement for it to be legally binding.

Sometimes it is necessary to start court proceedings to resolve finances if only to force full financial disclosure from the other partner.  This exchange of information, or disclosure, is vital before meaningful negotiations can start.

In these situations there are usually three court hearings.

At the first one, the court considers what information has been given and which questions and documents remain outstanding.

At the second hearing a judge will try to help the couple to reach an agreement often by giving an indication of what she or he thinks would be a reasonable potential outcome.

If all else fails, a different judge will impose his or her decision on the couple at the third and final hearing.

Resolving finances upon separation and divorce is usually complex.  We recommend that it is essential that you consult a specialist lawyer at the earliest opportunity to fully understand what is at stake and what needs to be done.

Book an appointment with us today in order to get the answers that you need to protect yourself and your family.