Applying for ancillary relief on divorce

8th March 2015 by

 

The financial settlement on divorce often looms large in the minds of spouses when they realise their marriage has irretrievably broken down; however, with the assistance of an expert family law lawyer the process can be handled sensitively and efficiently at every turn.

When a couple decide that their marriage has come to an end there will be three main elements to consider; (two if there are no children of the union):

  1. Marriage dissolution – the legal ending of the marriage concluding with Decree Absolute;
  2. Financial arrangements – division of marital assets and agreement of financial support for any children;
  3. Children arrangements (if there are any children of the marriage) – the agreeing of who the children will live with after the divorce (the parent with residency) and how contact will be arranged for the non-resident parent.

Financial arrangements on divorce

The formal name given to the legal process, in England and Wales, for deciding the financial arrangements of a divorcing couple is ancillary relief (ancillary meaning in addition to the full legal process of ending the marriage). The ancillary relief settlement will be finalised in a court order.

In English and Welsh family law an application for ancillary relief can only be made after the divorce has been petitioned and will usually be made by the spouse with weaker earning potential (often the parent with residency).

The two key areas the family law court will be concerned with in ancillary relief will be 1) dividing the marital assets and 2) ensuring that any major disparity in earning potential is considered.

The financial settlement is often the most contentious part of any divorce. Having expert legal advice regarding the financial claim is essential to ensure no disadvantage occurs during the process. Once the court rules on a financial claim it can be very difficult, and in some cases impossible, to vary the order.

Making the application

As stated in Family Proceedings Rule 2.61A an application for ancillary relief can only be made on Form A and must be sent to the court where the divorce case is pending. The spouse submitting the application will from thereon be known as the Applicant.

Once the court has received the application it must:

  • arrange a first appointment which will occur at least 12 weeks after the date of application but no later than 16 weeks after; and
  • serve a copy on the other spouse (known in ancillary relief proceedings as the Respondent) within four days of the application being filed.

Once the date for the first appointment has been made it cannot be changed without permission of the court.

Once the ancillary relief application has been made there is a strict timetable of events which must be adhered to in the proceedings. If these timings are not complied with the court may penalise the parties with costs.

Before filing a Form A application, a family law lawyer will be able to advise Applicants on the time schedule, the details they will need to have ready, and when they will need to produce documents and evidence.

Working hard for financial settlement on divorce

At Healys we believe the best way to achieve a just and fair ancillary relief package is to ensure all necessary financial information and evidence – such as pension and house valuations, investments held and projected earnings – is gathered as expediently as possible.

Our experienced divorce solicitors, based in offices in London and Brighton, can help you negotiate a suitable financial settlement on divorce by advising on all aspects of the ancillary relief application and all areas of the further negotiations.

For more information on the service we provide, please contact Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or email catherine.taylor@healys.com for Brighton. For London please contact Jane Sanders on 020 7822 4107 or email jane.sanders@healys.com