Money issues are often a cause of considerable concern to anyone contemplating a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. Bross Bennett boasts extensive experience in negotiating effective financial settlements for our clients. We are accustomed to acting for clients with complex financial affairs, including businesses, assets located overseas, pre-acquired or inherited assets and family trusts. Bross Bennett can help you find the best process to resolve your financial issues, whether a traditional court process or an alternative dispute resolution process such as mediation or collaborative law. Where a court application is appropriate, our priority is to ensure that robust negotiations are carried out, but that the proceedings are not unduly protracted.
Procedure: Disclosure and Negotiation
Regardless of the process you choose to sort out your finances, the first step to a fair settlement is to ensure there is a clear and accurate picture of the assets of each spouse or civil partner. Both spouses or civil partners must make full and frank disclosure of their financial position before negotiations can start.
Most financial cases are settled by negotiation. In some cases however, a court application needs to be made, for example to compel a spouse or civil partner to provide disclosure where it is not given voluntarily or to establish a reasonable time frame for the process.
However, even where a court application is required, most couples ultimately reach an agreement, with the assistance of their lawyers and/or the court. Only a very few cases require a judge to decide the outcome at a final hearing. Where a third-party decision is required, arbitration can be an effective alternative to court, particularly if privacy is a concern or a quick decision is needed. However, both spouses or civil partners must agree to arbitrate.
Determining the appropriate Financial Settlement
On divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership the English court has significant discretion when determining how assets should be divided and whether spousal maintenance should be paid. The court’s primary consideration is the welfare of any dependent children but the court 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 spouse or civil partner and to reach a decision which is fair. When negotiating a financial settlement solicitors will have regard to the likely approach of the court. As each case is determined on its specific facts, we recommend that you seek specialist legal advice to discuss your situation further.
If you are seeking legal advice for a financial settlement, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.