Reaching a divorce settlement when you divorce
For a free 30-minute initial chat with one of our divorce settlement lawyers, call Woolley & Co on 0800 321 3832 or complete our online form.
The division of matrimonial assets in divorce is now normally agreed upon in a voluntary settlement between the separating spouses. This avoids the need for costly, contentious and public court proceedings, while allowing you to stay in control of how your matrimonial finances are divided.
You should always consider taking legal advice about what types of financial settlements are appropriate and enforceable, even if you believe you will be able to agree matters with your partner. You need to know that decisions you make about how to share various financial assets, including property, pensions, savings and investments, won’t have any consequences you had not anticipated.
Our divorce financial settlement solicitors can assist in situations including:
- If there are no assets to divide (in which case it is still advisable to make a Clean Break Order)
- If you agree on the division of assets
- If you do not agree on the division of assets
- Maintenance on death (if your spouse dies before you reach a settlement)
With experience handling everything from straightforward separations with minimal assets to divorce settlements involving the most complex circumstances and high value assets, we can provide confident guidance on how to get the best settlement for your situation.
We can assist with making a financial agreement on divorce through methods including:
- Direct negotiations with your spouse
- Negotiations via your spouse’s lawyers
- Court proceedings
Our clients come from all over the UK and abroad, attracted by our divorce financial settlement solicitors’ true breadth and depth of knowledge, including strong experience advising British ex-pats getting divorced through the English courts.
Take a look at our team to find a divorce financial settlement solicitor near you.
How our divorce financial settlement solicitors can help you
Divorce settlements if there are no assets to divide
Even where you have no or very few matrimonial assets to divide, it is important to draw a line under the relationship legally. You do this by obtaining a Clean Break Order (sometimes called a ‘Clean Break divorce settlement’). This prevents either party from making a claim against the other in the future and protects things like a lottery win or future inheritance.
If you agree a divorce settlement
If you and your spouse have agreed on how to divide your finances, you can have a Consent Order drawn up by a solicitor. This is a legally binding document that will record what you have agreed. It may include a clean break, which will ensure neither party can make any claims against the other in the future.
If you agree, the consent order will often be processed alongside the divorce itself and therefore take around 6 months, depending on current court backlogs.
If you do not agree a divorce settlement
If you cannot agree on how to divide your finances or you wish to make sure any settlement is fair, you should always take advice from a specialist family lawyer.
Our divorce financial settlement solicitors can help in several ways:
- Making sure you understand what you might be entitled to by way of spousal maintenance, for example
- Ensuring you have full disclosure from your spouse before any settlement is agreed
- Negotiating on your behalf with your spouse directly or with their solicitors
- Advising you through mediation, which is another way you might try to reach an agreement with your spouse, and then drawing up a Consent Order
- Preparing your case for court or arbitration
Maintenance on death
Woolley & Co can assist if your spouse dies before financial matters in divorce are resolved. We can also advise on claims for financial support when a spouse or partner has died without making proper provision for you.
How we can help you to reach a financial agreement on divorce
There are a number of different routes you can take to reach a financial settlement for divorce in the UK.
Direct negotiations with your spouse
This involves you and your spouse privately agreeing between yourselves how your matrimonial assets should be divided. This may be an option where you have a good relationship with your spouse, and your finances are relatively straightforward.
Any agreement you reach should be recorded in writing, and it is advisable to apply to a court for a Consent Order to make the terms of your agreement legally binding.
Our divorce financial settlement lawyers can advise you on what you are entitled to in divorce, giving you a solid foundation for direct negotiations. We can also review any agreement you reach and tell you if we believe it is fair, as well as handle the Consent Order application for you.
Negotiations via your lawyers
Negotiating a divorce financial settlement agreement via your lawyers can be the best option if your finances are more complicated, the relationship between you and your spouse is more fraught and/or if there are key points of law you are unsure about.
Your respective lawyers will exchange letters setting out the key points that need to be agreed upon and any relevant points of law. Any agreement reached will, again, need to be recorded in a Consent Order to make the terms legally binding.
We will be happy to advise and represent you in negotiations with your spouse’s lawyers, making sure we clearly set out your rights and expectation and secure you the best available settlement while avoiding any unnecessary conflict.
A very common option is to work with a trained mediator to help agree a financial settlement. The mediator is an impartial third party who will sit down with you and your spouse and guide you through discussing the points you need to resolve and reaching agreement.
The mediator will write up the key points you have agreed with your spouse for you to take back to your own lawyers for review. Your lawyers will then advise you on all of the implications of the terms agreed and make sure that the agreement matches your best interests.
Once you are happy with the terms of a mediated divorce financial settlement, we would again recommend applying to a court for a Consent Order to make the agreement binding.
Our divorce financial settlement lawyers can advise you on what to expect from mediation and help you prepare for each session of mediation, so you know what you are entitled to and what to say. We can then review the terms of any agreement reached and apply for the Consent Order on your behalf.
Should you be unable to reach an agreement on the division of matrimonial assets but still keen to avoid court proceedings, then you may wish to consider arbitration. This involves taking your case to a trained arbitrator who will review the facts and make a decision about how assets should be divided.
Working with an arbitrator is a bit like going to court in that you and your spouse will both get to present your cases, with any relevant supporting evidence, to the arbitrator, who will then make a binding decision.
Key benefits of working with an arbitrator include that it is usually much faster than court proceedings and will happen in private, keeping the details of any settlement you reach confidential.
We can advise you on the suitability of arbitration and help you prepare for the process, as well as make sure you have suitable representation for the arbitration meeting itself.
In some cases, it may be necessary to apply to a court for a Financial Order to decide how your matrimonial assets should be divided. In this eventuality, it is absolutely essential to have the very best advice and representation to ensure your case is presented in the strongest light possible, giving you the best chance of reaching a division of finances that meets your needs.
Our divorce lawyers can support you through applying to a court for a Financial Order, as well as helping with every stage of preparing your case and making sure you have first-class representation for any hearings you are required to attend.
Key facts about divorce financial settlements
What am I entitled to in a divorce settlement?
The starting point for a financial settlement on divorce in the UK is normally a 50/50 split of all the marital assets. However, there are several factors which must be considered, and that might mean a move away from a 50/50 division.
The following will all be considered:
- the age of the parties
- length of the marriage
- the current and future earning capacity of each party
- any childcare arrangements
- contributions made during the marriage, both financial and otherwise
- standard of living and ongoing living expenses
- the property and assets available to be split (including things like pensions, businesses, savings and investments
A 50/50 split may not be advisable depending on whether a party needs income or capital to move on with their life. If one party takes on more of the childcare duties, this might influence the division of assets too. If a judge is called upon to decide, they will look at all of the circumstances and consider all of the matrimonial assets.
Who gets what in a divorce settlement?
Exactly how your assets are divided in a divorce settlement will depend on your exact circumstances with consideration to the factors outlined in answer to the question above.
It is common to have concerns about issues such as:
- How the family home is dealt with on divorce, who will live in the family home or whether it will need to be sold to divide the assets. This will depend on the circumstances in each case. An initial discussion with a family lawyer at Woolley & Co will help clarify your position.
- Whether you are entitled to spousal maintenance. This depends principally on the recipient’s needs, own income and ability to earn income as well as what the payer can afford to pay.
- How each party’s pensions will be dealt with on divorce. Pensions can be complex and confusing but are often one of the largest assets to consider in divorce. It is therefore essential to obtain the correct information and take advice on the options for pension sharing and offsetting.
- What will happen to savings, investments and debts. Perhaps surprisingly, all are considered as part of the matrimonial pot. Serious debt and bankruptcy can have serious implications for the financial settlement on divorce, and legal advice should always be sought in circumstances where the bankruptcy of one of the parties is a real or possible risk.
How can I make sure I am getting a fair divorce settlement?
To make sure you are getting everything you are entitled to in a divorce settlement, it is important to consider the following key questions:
Have all the finances really been considered?
When considering a financial settlement with a client, we break things down into three types of claims:
- The capital claims, which mean any properties you own, any shares or policies you have and any savings. Make sure you have thought about all of the capital you or your ex may have.
- Then there is the issue of pension value, and this includes any private pensions and the state pension, which can have an added value. Many people are surprised to realise that a pension can be even more valuable than property, so don’t underestimate the importance of looking carefully into this area.
- Finally, we consider income which includes any income from employment but from all sources, including rental income or investment income.
Does the proposed split address your financial needs?
Does the settlement address your housing needs? Does it consider what you will need in terms of expenditure per month? Does it address your future needs in retirement, whenever that might be, even if still a long way off?
Does the settlement meet the needs of any children of the relationship?
If you have children make sure you have thought about how much it costs to look after them both now and in the future, as they get older. Also, think about the cost of them continuing to study once they leave school and how they will support themselves.
Have you seen ALL of the financial information from your ex, and is it accurate, or is anything being hidden from you?
Make sure your ex has provided you with full details of their finances, and ideally, don’t just take their word for it, ask for documents in support.
Things you will need to check include:
- The value of any properties by getting an independent valuation
- The balances of any bank and savings accounts
- The value of any pensions and investments
- Are there any debts so that they don’t come out of the woodwork at a later stage and give you a nasty surprise
Make sure that the documents you do see make sense and the figures add up. In most cases, we encourage clients to go through a process of disclosure. You can do this voluntarily or, if you are asking the courts to make a decision on your finances, it will be a prerequisite. You do this by completing a Form E – we have a useful video talking you through what’s required in Form E here.
Does it give you a good long-term solution ?
Lastly, ask yourself whether, in the long run, you will be able to manage. Does the divorce settlement cover unexpected eventualities that can arise in life, such as big expenses? Don’t make the mistake of having jam today. A lump sum of £10,000 may seem like a lot of money, but not if it will be your only income or asset.
Can you divorce without a financial settlement ?
Yes, you can get a decree absolute before a financial settlement has been reached. However, it is usually advisable to get a financial settlement as part of the divorce process, as this is the surest way of securing a fair settlement.
It is always advisable to get a divorce financial settlement agreement before you or your partner remarry, as the needs of the parties will change at this point. It is important to speak to your lawyer if you plan to remarry or live with a new partner, as they will be able to advise how this will affect your financial settlement.
Do the grounds for divorce affect any settlement ?
Not really. The main way the grounds might affect a financial settlement is the length of time it takes to reach an agreement (for example, if you use the grounds of 5 years separation). The behaviour of the other party (for example, their adultery) will have no material impact on the financial settlement.
Getting legal advice on your divorce settlement
Reaching a financial settlement on divorce is not something you should rush or enter into without a full understanding of your rights. Our experts are here to make sure you go into the process with your eyes wide open and that you can secure a settlement that meets your needs and those of your loved ones.
For advice on agreeing a fair divorce settlement or help make the settlement legally binding, take advantage of your free 30-minute consultation with our expert divorce financial settlement solicitors by calling 0800 321 3832 or completing our quick online form.