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Financial Issues & Property Settlements

Your second greatest worry when considering separation or divorce will be the financial implications for you. Settling income and support for one another and for children, pension provision and division of assets such as the family home all have to be dealt with. It is always advisable to resolve the financial issues sooner rather than later to ensure that a financial settlement is reached. Unless dealt with on divorce spouses and civil partners could bring financial claims against each other many years after divorce or dissolution proceedings are concluded. It is therefore wise to resolve the financial matters as soon as possible after the separation to bring future certainty.

If you have separated from your spouse or civil partner you should therefore seek legal advice as soon as possible to help reach a financial settlement. Our aim is to guide you through what can be a difficult process with a view to negotiating an amicable settlement.

Once agreement has been reached it is advisable to set the terms down in a detailed written agreement to be signed off by both parties. If divorce or dissolution proceedings have taken place that agreement is known as a “Consent Order” and once signed by both parties it is filed with the Court for approval and it then becomes a legally binding Consent Order.

The process towards either financial agreement on separation or divorce or litigation always begins with financial disclosure. In all negotiations Makka solicitors Ltd abide by "Resolution" protocol. Both parties to the marriage are obliged to make full and frank disclosure of their income, assets and liabilities, pensions and to generally proceed in an honest and open manner towards resolution of financial matters.

If negotiations towards financial settlement break down an application can be made to the Divorce Court by either party to the marriage. The matter then proceeds to a fairly rigid timetable and in accordance with the Family Proceedings Rules towards a first directions hearing. Then a Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) appointment with the help of a Judge the parties are encouraged towards financial settlement/ "Resolution" and only if all else has failed and financial settlement / "Resolution" is impossible the case is listed for a final hearing. The Divorce Court can make interim financial orders such as maintenance pending suit when necessary.

If you wish to consult us regarding financial issues on separation, we would ask that you prepare a succinct financial file before coming to see us including such information as is listed below. Please remember - you know your affairs best so use your judgment as to the information and documents that we will need to see. Please also bring a complete photocopy of your file for us so that you can leave this with us following our meeting.

These are our suggestions only

Evidence of Income

  • If employed the last 6 payslips
  • If self-employed your latest accounts
  • If there is a family company please bring the last 3 years accounts with details of shareholdings

As to Capital

  • A mortgage statement
  • Estimated values of assets including the Family home, investments, insurances, endowment policies, ISAS, TESSAS, shares etc
  • Schedule of liabilities
  • Latest pension statement

Schedule of income needs and capital needs

  • A rough budget for the family unit before and after separation - effectively preparing 2 separate budgets

Short Marriage Cases

If there is a pre-marital agreement please include a copy in your file

In every case we need evidence of Identity and proof of your address.

The recent economical crash has already had a very noticeable effect on matrimonial settlements on divorce and separation and in a number of ways has made matrimonial settlements more difficult to achieve and to implement once negotiated. The effect has not been uniform across the range of matrimonial cases. The one consistent theme in financial settlements is that they represent a sharing of assets between husband and wife and that sharing has to be achieved either by the realisation of assets, possibly by sales or alternatively by raising capital through borrowing on the strength of assets.

In the average divorce case involving clients of modest means the tightening of credit has had the effect of depressing the property market at a time when property prices were already becoming fairly static and at the same time making it more difficult to utilise a clients borrowing capacity to purchase the interest of the other party in whatever the jointly owned assets might be, as often as not the main item being the matrimonial home. The result is that people cannot move on with their lives and are often trapped in unsatisfactory relationships unable to afford to establish two separate households.

Almost all matrimonial and divorce settlements are closely tied to residential property. The tightening of liquidity has produced an inability to realise assets quickly. This certainly causes problems but does not mean that our clients must be locked into unhappy relationships indefinitely. Financial settlements may not be as neat as we might like, there may be loose ends to tie up later and implementation may be partial but nevertheless satisfactory outcomes can be achieved. We must simply be a little more creative.

There are also many cases in which life in the family home has become intolerable for the parties and also for any children. The unhappiness of the parents inevitably impacts upon the children. In some cases a separation must be achieved even if one or other of the parties does not wish to leave the family home. In such cases there is an overlap between the law designed to prevent family abuse and to protect adults and children and the law in which the issues are strictly financial. A little persuasion or even compulsion by the Court Order is sometimes necessary.

What we can do for you irrespective of any recession;

  • We can negotiate financial settlements that are fair to all concerned with the minimum of stress.
  • We can litigate through the Court to obtain financial orders if necessary.
  • We can obtain the full scope of financial relief appropriate to each case.
  • We can act quickly to preserve assets.
  • We can extract financial information from people who do not wish to disclose.
  • We can be collaborative whenever possible alternatively we will fight your case strenuously and aggressively.
  • We can keep a firm hold on reality and the economics of every case.
  • We can make the process as stress free as circumstances allow

Frequently asked questions:

What’s a financial settlement?

It is the division of the marital assets which includes payment of maintenance (both for spouses and children) and decisions in respect of the family home, pensions and any other assets.

How do I get a financial settlement?

This is best achieved by way of agreement either directly between yourself and your spouse, or through negotiation via a solicitor. If agreement cannot be reached in this way then an application can be made for the Court to make the final decision.

How much will it cost?

The cost of litigation is a major burden to couples who take the litigation rather than financial settlement "Resolution" route. There is no single guideline or tariff that can be quoted and each case is assessed individually.

We give the best costs estimates we can at the outset and these may be revised a number of times as a case progresses. As divorce lawyers we deal with each client as an individual and a case can generally be assessed fairly thoroughly in the first interview of no more than 60-90 minutes and at reasonable cost. It is difficult to predict, as it depends on the assets at stake and the level of agreement, but the cost is generally between £2500 and £10,000.

How long will it take?

This is dependent on the level of negotiation required, but normally between 6 to 12 months. However, financial settlements and financial provision on divorce are still the areas of greatest uncertainty presenting real difficulty for the divorce lawyer advising clients.

How much financial support do I get for my children?

Currently child maintenance is in the hands of the Child Support Agency or its replacement. The Courts can however still make child maintenance orders by consent. There are also possibilities for top ups and a school fees order.

There are other options for financial provision for children such as those under the Children Act 1989 but those are best discussed in individual consultation between solicitor and client.

What kind of financial Provision can I expect?

Equality is now considered to be the measure of fairness in distribution of capital assets on divorce. This sounds simple and family lawyers wish it was. No sooner is a simple principle formulated than divorce lawyers look for the exceptions to the rule. In this case we refer to reasons for "departure from equality" and the best divorce lawyers are constantly inventing such reasons.

Our object as divorce lawyers as often as not is dealing with cases other than "big money" cases is to meet the needs of both parties and children by the division of inadequate capital and inadequate income. The result is that major adjustments in lifestyle are inevitably made by both parties.

Separation Deed:

Where there are no divorce or dissolution proceedings the next best option would be to have a “Separation Deed” prepared which would detail the terms of the settlement and would be signed by both parties. Provided both parties have had the opportunity of seeking their own independent legal advice before signing the Deed, it is more than likely that the Court would uphold its terms if there was to be a dispute in the future.

If you have family related issues and need to seek advice or need a solicitor to give you support then please do not hesitate to give us a call on 020 8767 9090.

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