Divorce & Dissolution Financial Arrangements

People often say that dividing finances on divorce and civil partnership dissolution is one of the most stressful life events you can go through, but these people didn’t have our family lawyers to help them. We can provide clear, straightforward advice about financial agreements and claims upon relationship breakdown.

The right approach for you

Married couples and civil partners are able to make a number of financial claims on separation. These include claims in respect of capital and other assets, property, pensions and maintenance for each other and the children. We will guide and advise you through the process to work out the right financial settlement for you.

At WSP Solicitors, our team of warm, friendly dissolution and divorce solicitors provide practical legal advice to individuals and families across Gloucestershire. With offices in Gloucester, Stroud, and Dursley, we are local solicitors serving local people.

We understand that working out financial arrangements can be difficult, particularly where you and your partner lived together for many years and built a life together. Untangling all the threads while ensuring your agreement is fair can quickly lead to arguments over matters like:

  • What should happen to the family home?
  • Who is responsible for paying the bills and managing debts?
  • How should pensions be split?

From straightforward advice about dividing savings or the family home, to resolving more complex matters involving things like multiple properties and family businesses, we can help you address all these matters and more.

With us by your side, you probably won’t need to go to court. We help most of our clients resolve issues and come to a financial arrangement through informal discussion and negotiation.

Contact our divorce and civil partnership dissolution solicitors in Gloucestershire

For expert divorce and dissolution advice, please contact your local WSP branch in Gloucester, Stroud or Dursley today.

If you have a quick question or would like to request a call back, you can also use our quick online enquiry form.

How can we help you agree a financial settlement upon divorce or civil partnership dissolution

We will guide and advise you through the process to work out the right financial settlement for you. The starting point is usually to gather information about your financial circumstances and those of your former partner through a process known as ‘financial disclosure’ and also to consider your future needs and those of any children. We will then advise you on the available options and help you to negotiate the best settlement possible.

There are several ways we can help you sort out your finances, including:

  • Informal discussions
  • Mediation
  • Collaborative law
  • Family arbitration
  • Court proceedings – application for a Financial order

Going to court will usually be a last resort and is typically only necessary in particularly challenging or complex circumstances.

Informal discussions

For many couples, including those who no longer get on, cooperative discussion is often all it takes to agree a financial settlement. We can assist by helping you collect information about your finances and respectfully requesting information from your partner so you can start the process on equal footing. We can also help you negotiate, ensuring that you receive everything you need to move on with your life in financial security.

Mediation

Mediation is the process of sitting down with your partner to discuss divorce and dissolution matters with the help of a qualified mediator. The mediator’s role is to guide your discussions, defuse conflict, and help you put your agreement in writing. They will not take sides, give legal advice or make a judgment – any agreement you make will be entirely decided by you and your partner.

Collaborative law

Like mediation, collaborative law is the process of sitting down with your partner to discuss divorce and dissolution matters. However, instead of a mediator, you will both be accompanied by collaborative lawyers who have specialist skills advising in these sorts of discussions. As well as your collaborative lawyer, you can also invite other experts such as accountants and independent financial advisors. For this reason, collaborative law can be great for couples with complicated finances.

Our family law team includes two collaborative lawyers – Judi Bonham and Beth Evans – who would be happy to help.

Family arbitration

Arbitration is a method of resolving financial issues and disputes without going to court. It involves attending one or more sessions with your partner before an arbitrator. The arbitrator will listen to both of you, consider any evidence you bring, then make a decision about your financial settlement. If at the beginning of the session, both you and your partner agree to follow the arbitrator’s decision, you cannot back out of the financial settlement.

Court proceedings

Where it has not been possible for you and your former partner to agree a financial settlement, either of you can make an application to the court for a financial order once divorce or dissolution proceedings have been issued. Initially the court will ask you and your former partner to provide detailed information about your finances. At the first court hearing the judge will consider what further information they require to make a decision in your case. There usually follows a second court hearing called a Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment where the judge will look at the information available, listen to what you and your former partner have to say and give guidance to try and help you to reach an agreement.

It is common for couples to agree a financial settlement during the court process and to ask the court to make a consent order reflecting that agreement. Where this is not possible the application will be listed for a final hearing after which the judge will decide on what financial orders are appropriate in your case.

What should be included in a financial settlement?

All your financial assets acquired during the course of your marriage or civil partnership should be considered, as well as other income and debts. A detailed financial settlement could include:

Savings and investments – both in your joint names or solely owned

The family home – you will need to decide matters such as whether one party should keep it, whether it should be sold and the equity divided between you, or who will pay the mortgage and the bills if you keep it in joint names.

Other properties – if you own buy-to-let properties, second homes or holiday homes, you need to decide matters such as who will keep what, whether any properties should be sold, who will be responsible for maintaining mortgages and repairs, and who should receive any income from the properties.

Pensions – there are several ways you can divide pensions, including pension sharing (creating a new pension for one partner using a proportion of the other’s pension) and pension offsetting (allowing one partner a greater share of other assets to ‘offset’ the value of the other partner’s pension).

Trusts – if you or your partner have beneficial interests under a trust, these could still form part of your divorce financial proceedings (even though you do not legally own the assets).

Family businesses – whether you and your partner own a business together or one of you owns a business, your interests will likely form part of your financial settlement. There are many ways you can handle businesses to avoid damaging them during the divorce or dissolution. However, the process can become complicated so it is important to seek legal advice and financial advice before deciding anything.

Do I have to make a financial settlement?

You do not have to make a financial settlement but it is highly recommended that you do.

While divorce or dissolution ends your marriage or civil partnership with your partner, it does not end your financial obligations to one another. If you do not settle the financial matters, your former partner could make a claim against you at any time after the divorce or dissolution is finalised. Even if you have no assets to split at the time of separation, if you later come into some money, your former partner could start legal proceedings against you to claim a share.

A financial settlement or financial order puts an end to your financial obligations and prevents you and your former partner from being able to make any future claims. This is referred to as a ‘clean break’. The clean break can either be full or ‘capital only’. A capital clean break is more appropriate for couples who have an ongoing spousal maintenance agreement in place – the financial settlement will allow for your maintenance agreement and future maintenance discussions but prevent other claims against your assets (such as your house or savings). 

How does the court approach financial proceedings?

The court will expect your financial arrangements to be fair to both of you. The starting point for financial settlements should always be a 50-50 split, however, you must also consider other factors to decide what is fair. Often, the final result is an uneven split such as 60-40 or 70-30. The factors that should be considered include:

  • Financial resources of you and your former partner
  • Your incomes and earning capacity, both now and in the future
  • The needs of any children
  • Your standards of living and living expenses
  • Your ages and the duration of the marriage or civil partnership
  • Any physical and mental disability of either party
  • Your contributions to the relationship, including non-financial contributions such as childcare and looking after the home
  • Any benefits you will lose as a result of the separation, such as pension benefits

The court’s ultimate goal will be to find a solution that enables everyone in the family to move on with their lives and maintain a decent standard of living. 

What are TOLATA Proceedings? 

Where owners of a property cannot agree what should happen to that property or the interests in it, or when a person claims an interest in a property legally owned by another, it is sometimes necessary to make an application to the court for an order under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (otherwise known as TOLATA proceedings).

If such proceedings become necessary we will guide and advise you through the process. During the proceedings a judge will decide what information is required to help him or her make a decision and give guidance to try and help you to reach an agreement.

It is common for couples to reach an agreement during the court process and to ask the court to make a consent order reflecting that agreement. Where this is not possible the application will be listed for a final hearing after which the judge will decide what orders to make about the property.

What financial claims do I have if I am separating from a partner when we are not married?

Cohabiting couples are not able to make the same financial claims against each other as couples who are married or civil partners. However there are often financial issues to be resolved when unmarried couples separate, for example:

  • Determining interests in property
  • Considering whether property should be sold or transferred
  • Dividing jointly owned assets
  • Agreeing maintenance for the children

The law governing these areas can be complex. We will give you advice tailored to your circumstances.

Get in touch with our divorce and dissolution solicitors

For expert divorce and dissolution advice, please contact your local WSP branch in Gloucester, Stroud or Dursley today.

If you have a quick question or would like to request a call back, you can also use our quick online enquiry form.




Close

Get in touch

Please fill in the form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can