Introduction

With respect to finances assuming your spouse and you have or are able to reach an amicable agreement as to the division of the martial assets then, we can draft a document called a Consent Order. This sets out the agreement reached. It is signed by your spouse, by you and by us. We will then send the agreement to the court for a Judge to approve.

It is important to have a Consent Order as it can provide for a clean break. This means that once the divorce is finalised neither your spouse nor you can make any further financial claim against the other. This protects any inheritance you receive in the future and monetary gifts. If you do not have a Consent Order then your financial claims against your spouse and vice versa will remain open indefinitely even after you are divorced.

However, if you and your partner cannot reach an amicable agreement with regards to your finances, then as a last resort an application will be required to be made to court where a judge will consider how to divide up your assets.

The courts are likely to take everything into account including the age of the parties involved, your lifestyles and your standard of living, the duration of the marriage, your current earning capacity along with your future earning capacity, what you have contributed to the marriage and most importantly whether or not you have any children. These are just some of the few factors taken by the courts when deciding a fair and proportionate settlement.

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Procedure & Process

How long do financial settlements take?

Once an application has been to the courts, the estimated time is usually between 3-6 months. The courts set a strict timetable to ensure that the case is dealt with swiftly with the intention of keeping costs to a minimum.

Financial settlement procedure

Form A is file and served. This is the application to start the process requiring a £255 court fee. This is the application to start the court procedure. Either party to the divorce can make the application.

Court sets date for the first directions appointment (FDA). It also sets the date for the filing and exchanging of Form E (5 weeks before the hearing) and the exchange of other documents for the FDA (two weeks before the hearing).

Court sends Notice of First Appointment to both parties

Applicant sends a copy of Form A to the mortgage company

File and exchange Form E – 5 weeks before the FDA

FDA documents filed and served:

  • Concise statement of issues
  • Chorology of key facts and dates
  • Questionnaires
  • Form G – is it possible to combine the FDA and the FDR hearing?
  • Agreed case summary and
  • Draft directions order

Form H – estimates of costs files before the hearing

FDA at court can be combined with FDR appointment if both parties agree.

Court makes directions in order to determine the following:

  • Which questions should be answered
  • What valuations should be taken; and
  • And what other expert evidence is needed

Prepare for FDR Hearing:

  • Answer questionnaires;
  • Obtain valuation/ expect evidence
  • File proposals for settlement
  • File costs statement

FDR Hearing

This is a without prejudice hearing at which point the judge will try to assist a settlement of financial issues. Statistically Most cases settle here or just after and the courts make a final order on the agreed terms if not ….

Preparation of final hearing

If there is no settlement at the FDR, the judge makes directions order and sets the case down for a final hearing. In advance of the hearing:

  • Bundle of papers for the court will have to be prepared and filed
  • Barristers will be briefed and may discuss matters in conference
  • Open proposal for settlement will be filed and served
  • Detailed costs estimates will have to be filed

Final Hearing – the court will listen to the evidence, grant orders and give reasons.