Dealing with the Financial Issues on Divorce

Person filling papers with a laptop and phone in the background

What is the process for dealing with the financial issues on divorce?

Mediation is the first step if agreement cannot be reached between you. During the course of mediation both sides will have to disclose fully details of all their income and assets. If agreement cannot be reached on mediation, go and see a specialist family solicitor who deals with financial applications.

What if we reach agreement at mediation?

If mediation has produced a result, that result should be recorded as a court order. For that you will definitely need a solicitor. If it has been agreed that no further claims will be made by either party against the other then the solicitor instructed should prepare a clean break order.

What if we don’t reach agreement at mediation?

If, having tried mediation, you don’t reach agreement you must instruct a specialist family lawyer who deals with financial applications/ancillary relief. Your solicitor will seek to reach agreement with the solicitors acting for your spouse. If agreement cannot be reached, an application is made to the court.

What is the process at court for dealing with financial applications?

Both parties exchange Form E which is a lengthy questionnaire detailing income, assets, liabilities etc. Once that has been exchanged between the parties solicitors, further attempts can be made to negotiate a settlement. If no settlement is reached, the matter goes to a court hearing.

What happens at court?

The process involves three separate hearings to the court (unless the case is settled meanwhile). Firstly there is an appointment for directions to be given by the court for example further questions to be answered by one side or the other. Then there is a financial dispute resolution hearing (“FDR”). At the FDR a Judge in charge of the case for that day only will attempt to get the parties to reach agreement spelling out to them what will happen if they don’t reach agreement. If the FDR fails to produce an agreement, the matter goes to a full hearing some months later and is dealt with by a different Judge,

Why is it important to obtain a final order relating to finances?

Many people think that if they just get their divorce (decree absolute) that is the end of any further claims to do with money or property that can be made by the ex-husband/ex-wife. This is not the case in England and Wales. Even if you get a divorce, your ex-husband or ex-wife can apply to the court at any time – even after your death – for financial provision to be made by you, or, if necessary, from your Estate. It is absolutely necessary to enquire of a specialist solicitor as to your particular circumstances to prevent nasty surprises happening when your ex-spouse contacts you 20 or 30 years after the divorce wanting half your pension.