No. 25 - Overview Of Financial Issues - England & Wales
In addition to paying the costs of divorce and sorting out child maintenance, you'll need to come to an agreement on the division of financial assets, including property, pensions, and savings, and the payment, if appropriate, of spousal maintenance.
Where an agreement is not possible, one party can apply to the court for a financial order, which is known as ancillary relief. But, this cannot be done until the court receives the divorce petition.
The parties must then exchange financial disclosures, which must also be filed with the court, so that by the time the First Directions Appointment comes around, both parties know about each other's finances and the matters about which they agree and disagree.
** It is important to note that either party may at any stage of the proceedings make a written offer to settle any issue or part of the proceedings relating to the application for ancillary relief. It is advisable, however, to consult with a solicitor beforehand.
If the parties do not settle, they must both personally attend the First Directions Appointment. If one party fails to attend, they may have to pay the other party's costs of the wasted appointment.
At the appointment, the judge can do any of the following:
- Give further directions on how the case will proceed. For example,
the Judge might need further information and adjourn the hearing to
allow time to collect this.
- In certain circumstances and if both parties agree, make a final order
in respect of the application.
- Refer the case to a Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR)
- Adjourn the case so the parties can go to mediation, if appropriate.
In most cases, the parties reach an agreement on financial issues at or before FDR / mediation. But, a small minority of cases proceed to a final hearing where the court hears arguments from both sides before it imposes a settlement in a court order.
The final order cannot be made (except for where it is for maintenance pending suit or periodical payments for a child) until the decree nisi is pronounced. And the order cannot come into force until the decree nisi has been made absolute.
Applications for Interim Orders
Either party may, however, at any time before the final order is made, apply for an interim financial order, as necessary. For example, where they are struggling to meet immediate expenses without the other's support.
** Additional information & advice **
You can obtain further information about divorce on FindLaw. Depending on your circumstances, however, you may want to speak with a solicitor who specialises in family law. You can be matched with a solicitor in your area for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.