When a married couple decide to separate from each other, quite often there are a number of financial matters which will need to be resolved, including what should happen with regard to the matrimonial home and its contents and whether it will be appropriate for there to be a pension sharing order. It will always be advisable, prior to reaching any financial settlement with a spouse, to first obtain expert advice from a specialist family lawyer.
To speak to a specialist family lawyer today, call our offices in Leicester, Hinckley and Market Harborough using the contact details below.
Financial considerations with divorce
When resolving financial matters between a married couple, a three stage process should normally be followed:
- The first stage is to identify the exact financial circumstances of each party, eg their income, assets and liabilities.
- The second stage is to ascertain the value of each party’s current financial position, eg how much do they earn, what are their savings, how much equity is in the matrimonial home etc.
These first two stages are called full and frank financial disclosure and it is very important that each party makes an honest and comprehensive disclosure to the other as to their current finances.
- The third stage is then to consider what would be a fair and reasonable financial settlement between the parties. This is not a straightforward mathematical process. Each case depends upon its own facts and figures.
When resolving financial matters between a married couple, a Judge has a wide discretion as to the type of financial settlement which they may order.
Arranging divorce financial settlements
We have specialist family law solicitors at Bray & Bray who are able to give expert and comprehensive advice as to the type of financial settlement which a court is likely to consider fair and reasonable in the particular circumstances of your case. When considering the terms of a financial settlement, the court will always have regard to section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1975. This lists a number of factors which the Court should take into account when deciding how to exercise its powers when financial matters are disputed between a married couple.
How a divorce court decides financial settlements
Whilst a court would look at all of the circumstances of the case, first consideration is given to the welfare of any child of the family who has not yet attained the age of 18. The court will then have regard to the financial needs of each party, the length of the marriage, the current income and future earning capacity of each party, each party’s age and whether they have any physical or mental disability, the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage and contributions each party has made towards the welfare of the family. The conduct of one or both of the parties is only taken into account in exceptional circumstances.
When advising a client as to what is a fair and reasonable financial settlement, we will always have regard to the abovementioned section 25 factors and will provide advice as to which factors are particularly relevant to their case.
If a married couple reach a financial settlement between themselves and it is in a legal document even if they do not have the benefit of legal advice, it is possible that a court may subsequently hold both parties to that agreement. This is in case one of them should subsequently decide they no longer wish to keep to the agreement.
It is therefore important to ensure advice is obtained from a family law expert prior to reaching any financial agreement with a spouse.
Do I need a Legal document?
If an agreement is reached it is best to put that in a legal document. If you are going through a divorce this is usually a Consent Order which is placed before the court for its approval with a summary of your financial circumstances. If approved by the court this governs your financial arrangements. If you are not proceeding with the divorce (e.g. if you are waiting until you have been separated 2 years), then you could put it in a Deed of Separation. This is second best to a Court Order and has some limitation, e.g. you cannot have a Pension Sharing under it. However, they are generally upheld by the courts if you fulfill all of the requirements. Even if one person has not had legal advice on it, it may be upheld so always take legal advice before signing.
Contact our specialist family lawyers
Here at Bray & Bray we have a number of family lawyers and solicitors who are experts in all areas of family law. We are therefore able to provide you with advice and assistance with regard to any issue regarding your marriage, including pre and postnuptial agreements, divorce, financial settlements, mediation, pension splitting and children issues.
If you should have any queries then please do not hesitate to contact Mr David Berridge, who is head of the family law department, on 0116 2548871 or by email on email@example.com.
Bray and Bray has three main offices in Leicestershire, contact us to discuss an enquiry or a case you have or feel free to pop in and see us at your local office by clicking on the links below:
Leicester call us on 0116 254 8871.
Hinckley call us on 01455 639 900.
Market Harborough call us on 01858 467 181.