One of the most important and vital questions for our clients when dealing with the practical consequences of divorce, formal separation or dissolution of a civil partnership is how the family’s property, assets and liabilities will be divided.
The law in this area is largely set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and case law.
At Crisp & Co we understand that the financial consequences of marriage breakdown have long term and far reaching effects and that it is crucial that our clients receive good guidance at an early stage.
At Crisp & Co our entire team have specialist knowledge and experience in the financial consequences of marriage breakdown. We always aim to provide our clients with expert practical advice, whether your family assets are modest or complex.
Your Questions Answered
What are the financial claims that can be made?
Once either you or your partner has applied to the Court for a divorce, dissolution or judicial separation, then the Court can make Orders in relation to any or all of the following:-
- Maintenance payments to a partner.
- Transfer of property from one partner to the other.
- Ordering the sale of property and the division of the proceeds of that sale.
- Transfer of lump sums of money and other assets.
- Pension sharing.
Either of you can make an Application to deal with the financial consequences of the family breakdown, no matter who started the matrimonial proceedings.
Although it is necessary to make an Application to the Court in regard to the financial consequences of the relationship breakdown, it is not always necessary for you to have to physically go to Court. This will depend on the way in which you decide to deal with the financial aspects of your separation, however in order to make any agreement legally binding it must have the approval of the Court. You will need expert advice on the most appropriate method of dealing with these issues in your particular circumstances. See our collaborative and mediation pages for more information.
Does it take a long time to deal with the finances?
Once an Application has been made to the Court to deal with the family’s finances, a strict timetable is put in place.
The Court gives directions as to what financial information is required and will also set a date for a First Appointment to ensure adequate disclosure of both party’s financial situation has been or will be made.
A date will then usually be scheduled for a Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment (FDA) when consideration is given as to whether the financial issues can be settled without the need for a full blown trial. Alternatively, if settlement cannot be reached, then a date is set for a full Hearing of the financial claims.
At any point during this process, the couple can reach agreement between themselves (obviously with the benefit of legal advice) and bypass the steps in the process that do not apply to their particular circumstances.
It is not possible to provide an exact time scale for how long it will take to deal with the financial issues as each client has a unique set of circumstances. At Crisp & Co, we endeavour to provide our clients with realistic time estimates from the very outset and keep our clients fully updated as matters progress.
But I need some money now...
If you are in urgent need of money to pay for essentials, such as the mortgage or other necessary expenses, then an Application can be made to the Court for maintenance on a temporary basis so that you have sufficient funds until all the issues surrounding the finances can be addressed.
Who gets what? How is it decided?
The appropriate financial arrangements are determined largely by Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and relevant case law. The first consideration is always given to the needs and welfare of any children aged under 18 years, and then the following factors are considered:-
- The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources of that each party to the marriage has at present or may be likely to have in the foreseeable future.
- The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities that each party to the marriage has at present or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.
- The standard of living enjoyed by the family prior to the marriage breakdown.
- The age of both the husband and the wife and the length of the marriage.
- The mental or physical disability of either the husband or the wife.
- The contributions made by the husband or wife to date or contributions likely to made in the foreseeable future, towards the welfare of the family, including contributions made for caring for a family member.
- The conduct of either the husband or the wife in relation to their conduct in the proceedings.
- Consideration, is also given as to whether it is appropriate to terminate each of the party’s financial duties to the other, known as making a Clean Break Order, which means that consideration to the length of time any Order for maintenance should last.
Ultimately, who gets what in the financial arrangements will be decided, wherever possible by the separating couple, sometimes with the guidance of the Court. If no agreement or compromise can be reached, then the Court will decide.
What financial information will I need to give?
In sorting out the division of the family’s finances, a lot of information is required from both partners, so that a full picture of the family’s financial situation can be made and a fair arrangement can be reached, whether by agreement or by the Court.
Each party is obliged to complete comprehensive details of their respective financial position in a Form E. The exact information that is needed depends entirely on your unique circumstances, so it is impossible to list these all here.
It is vital that the partners respective legal advisors have a clear understanding of the family’s financial position in order to provide the best advice in relation to any proposed arrangements over the finances and if an agreement cannot be reached then the Court needs this information to make a decision on the division of the family’s assets and liabilities.
I really don’t want the Courts getting involved in my family finances...
As members of Resolution, all the lawyers at Crisp & Co are committed to adopting an amicable and constructive approach to resolving both financial and other issues following marriage breakdown.
It is often possible and preferable to engage in a voluntary process governing both disclosure and negotiation. Whilst you will be advised throughout, often this approach suits families better as well as minimising legal costs.
At any stage in the financial proceedings an agreement can be reached between the couple who are divorcing or separating regarding the division of the family assets. In this case, the agreement will be set out in a Consent Order which the Court will consider and usually approve, unless there is some inequity in the agreement. The overwhelming majority of financial arrangements are concluded by this method.
Some of our clients prefer to explore Mediation or a Collaborative Law approach. We have solicitors who are experts in both these fields. Please refer to our section on Mediation and Collaborative Law in this regard.
How much is it going to cost?
The legal costs depend on the length of time it takes to reach agreement both in respect of the divorce and the division of the family finances. However, at Crisp & Co we pride ourselves on offering the most competitive rates for the best expertise, often charging only half the rates of similarly qualified solicitors.
We do understand that it is important that you know from the outset what your legal fees are likely to amount to. For this reason we provide each and every client with a bespoke costs plan and time estimate from the very first appointment with regular updates as needed.
For those clients who have a need to limit costs to a certain sum, we are also offer a ‘pay as you go’ service, whereby work is limited to a certain cost limit set by the client. You will not be charged for your initial appointment at Crisp & Co.
We can find out what your needs are and how we can help you and also give you an estimate of your likely overall legal fees, including expenses and VAT. Contact us for more information.
What should I do next?
Get in contact with us. We have offices located throughout London and the South East. Call or e-mail us now to arrange your free initial one hour consultation.
Is there anything I need to bring with me to my first appointment with Crisp & Co?
It is useful if you provide us with:-
- Your passport or photo identity driving licence plus another proof of identity with your name and address, such as a recent utility bill.
- Your marriage certificate or certificate of civil partnership – if you have it.
- Any letters or documents that have been sent to you by your partner/husband/wife’s solicitors.
- Any documents that have been sent to you by the Court.
Don’t worry if you cannot provide the information listed above at the first appointment, this can always be given at a later date. However, the more information you can provide us with, the better we will be able to advise you.