In this article we look at how a divorcing spouse can ask a court to help them sort out the finances relating to relationship breakdown.
The divorce petition
When a spouse wants to apply to the courts for a divorce they must fill in a Form D8 – a divorce petition.
The final section of the petition is “the prayer” – this is the part of the petition where the petitioner (spouse making the application) formally asks the court to dissolve his or her marriage and indicates whether they wish to apply for a financial order (previously known as ancillary relief).
If the divorcing spouses have not reached agreement regarding finances and they need the court to resolve their dispute, the petitioner should use this section to indicate what type of order they wish to apply for. At this point, it is always advisable to seek the advice of a solicitor if you are unsure of what your best course of action is. Once the court rules upon a financial claim it can be very difficult, or even impossible, to vary the terms, so it is important to understand your legal rights at the outset.
Healys family law solicitors in Brighton and London have many years’ experience in representing petitioners in financial claims and also in defending claims made against respondents (the spouse replying to the petition).
Form D8 – Financial orders
The court can determine the distribution of a divorcing couple’s property, assets and wealth under Section 23 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
The types of order a petitioner can request are as follows:
Order for maintenance pending suit: Used if the divorce is going to take some time to finalise and there is an immediate need for maintenance to be paid – perhaps to help with the payment of school fees, or if mortgage payments have fallen into arrears.
Periodical payments order: Also known as spousal maintenance this is where one party is ordered to pay the other a specified sum each week/month (or over a schedule specified by the court). It will only be ordered when one spouse would be unable to support themselves without it.
Secured provision order: Where periodical payments are secured against a capital asset such as the former marital home or other properties. Such an order can be used if the court feels the respondent would be unlikely to pay maintenance. However, it is quite rare and only occurs when the divorce financial settlement is large.
Lump sum order: Where one party is ordered to pay a specified amount to their former spouse usually to offset their share of matrimonial property or available assets such as savings and/or pension funds.
Property adjustment order: Where one party is ordered to transfer all or part of their interest in a property to their former spouse, typically the mother of the children.
Under section 24B, 25B or 25C of the Act of 1973, a court can determine a Pension sharing/attachment order: Where pension fund trustees are ordered to attribute part or all of any retirement funds to the pension holder’s former spouse at an appropriate time.
Seeking the advice of a family law solicitor
The official guidance notes which accompany Form D8 suggest that petitioners seek the advice of a solicitor before completing the section regarding financial orders. All financial applications must be made before remarriage or entering into a new civil-partnership agreement.
If the section is not completed when the petition is sent to the court the petitioner may be at a financial disadvantage at a later date.
Healys family law solicitors in Brighton and London can offer assistance to you if you are filling out a Form D8 as a petitioner, or if you have received a petition and are now the respondent to a financial claim.
Healys solicitors for financial claims on divorce
We pride ourselves on our ability to listen to the concerns of our clients and to treat each divorce financial settlement claim on its own merits.
As members of Resolution our family law team will always endeavour to conduct divorce negotiations in as amicable, constructive and conciliatory manner as possible, but, should the need arise, we are always ready to take robust action to protect your interests and those of your dependants.
For more information on the service we provide, please contact Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or email email@example.com for Brighton. For London please contact Jane Sanders on 020 7822 4107 or email firstname.lastname@example.org