Reaching a financial settlement during divorce proceedings

8th March 2015 by

 

Divorce is a painful part of any relationship breakdown, whether you are a couple with or without children, and it is advisable that both parties seek legal guidance to handle each aspect of proceedings professionally.

The negotiation of a financial settlement on divorce involves the valuation of all the assets that a couple hold jointly and individually. In addition to organising finances, the settlement will also detail make appropriate arrangements for the future, particularly where children are concerned.

Healys offers a range of family law services for those looking for representation during a divorce. Our experienced legal professionals and solicitors have the expertise every couple needs to ensure a divorce can be finalised effectively and cost efficiently.

What does a divorce involve?

Clients who wish to divorce or dissolve a civil partnership will face three main issues in order to successfully obtain a divorce. Formal separation is the first step.

Formal separation allows the client to file and establish grounds for divorce. Grounds for divorce include:

  • Adultery – where one of the partners has had relations with someone else. Please note that you cannot state adultery as grounds if you have lived with your partner for more than six months after discovering the affair(s). Plus, same sex spouses cannot state adultery as grounds for divorce if the extra-marital affair occurred with a party of the same gender. However, they can plead ‘unreasonable behaviour’ as grounds.
  • Unreasonable behaviour – such as physical violence, verbal abuse, alcoholism, drug taking or refusing to take responsibility for any financial commitments you have as a couple.
  • Desertion – when one of the partners has left without agreement, ending the relationship without good reason.
  • Living separately for two years (if both parties agree to the divorce) and five years (if one party does not agree to the divorce).

You will have to apply for permission to get divorced and state the grounds when filing a petition with the court. When the court is satisfied with your reasons for wanting to dissolve your marriage you will need to make a decree nisi application, where both partners have agreed to the petition. This is followed by a decree absolute application which legally ends your marriage.

Following the formal dissolution of your marriage or civil partnership, a financial settlement on divorce can be agreed. This settlement can be made on a formal or informal basis, and terms can be made legally binding by applying for a court order.

Obtaining a settlement

Unbeknown to many the formal separation process – not to be confused with judicial separation – can be the most straightforward part of proceedings, with the negotiation of a settlement on divorce proving a more complex process. Settlements can also be made more complicated when negotiating rights for and division of larger assets such as property or family business ownership.

At all stages of divorce proceedings it is advisable that you obtain legal support from a qualified and experienced family law solicitor. Delivering the most up-to-date legal advice regarding separation and divorce, Healys has assisted both UK and overseas clients with various family law issues, including separation, divorce and civil partnership dissolution agreements.

Factors affecting settlement value

Financial settlements are devised to be fair for both parties. However, satisfying the welfare and needs of any children is of course the main priority for a court. The grounds for divorce, such as adultery, do not affect the amounts a court will award in any financial settlement, but unreasonable behaviour, such as violence, drug taking and alcoholism, will have an impact on child care arrangements.

The settlement of spousal maintenance forms part of the process, although not all divorce financial claims will see an order for spousal maintenance to be made. Depending on your circumstances an appropriate entitlement or lump sum payment may be ordered.

If one of the partners deliberately sabotages their financial position or does not disclose fully their financial affairs in an attempt to influence a settlement then this will be another factor taken into account and could see heavy costs incurred and even a prosecution.

Dealing with property

When property is involved in a financial claim on divorce, it is important to understand that both spouses have the same rights to occupy the family home as they had before divorce proceedings took place. As well as sorting out financial rights and child care arrangements, settlements are also there to assist in the division of residential and commercial property assets.

It is recommended that you seek legal guidance before moving out, as whilst you may have entitlement to the property, practical issues can prevent you from gaining access once you leave.

If your spouse or civil partner is the sole owner of the property, then you should register your interest in the property with Land Registry. This will prevent it from being sold without your permission.

Healys can help in a financial claim on divorce

For further information on Healys’ family law services please call 01273 685 888.

Our solicitors are here to help and have many years’ experience in contested divorce and financial claim disputes.