Reaching a Financial Settlement
Reaching a financial settlement is very often a cause of considerable concern to anyone contemplating a divorce. We have a great deal of experience in negotiating effective financial settlements for our clients. We are accustomed to dealing with clients with complex financial affairs, including businesses, offshore assets and family trusts. Our main concern is to ensure that robust negotiations are carried out, but that the proceedings are not unduly protracted. If you have children, their welfare will be a very important consideration in the financial settlement.
The first step to a fair settlement, is to ensure we have a clear and accurate picture of the assets of each partner. This process is called disclosure. Both partners must make full and frank disclosure of their financial position before negotiations can start. Once we have details of all assets, and agreed their values, we can seek to agree settlement terms.
Most cases are settled by negotiation between the couple and their lawyers. In some cases however, an application to court to resolve a financial dispute needs to be made so that use can be made of the court procedure and timetable that this provides; sometimes this is necessary for instance to force the issue of disclosure where it is not given voluntarily or to establish a reasonable time frame for the process.
Only a very few cases are actually resolved by a final hearing in front of a judge.
- Periodical payments (ie maintenance).
- The transfer of property. This is where ownership of an asset is transferred to one partner as part of the overall settlement and given to the other.
- The payment of a lump sum.
- A pension attachment or pension sharing order. Divorce courts now have the power to divide pensions between spouses and civil partners.
The law sets out the criteria which must be taken into account when formulating financial settlements. There is no codified formula for the division of assets - it is a discretionary system. The primary consideration is the welfare of any dependent children but the courts must also take into account, in respect of spouses and civil partners, your income and earning capacity, your savings, your housing needs, your pensions, the duration of the marriage or civil partnership, your overall contributions, your health and any other circumstances of the case. The court is required to balance these criteria when considering the claims of each partner and to reach a decision which is fair.
Different courts work to slightly different time-tables, but generally you need to allow about a year to 18 months from the date when we make the first application to the final hearing.