Financial claims in divorce: your questions answered

Do I need a financial order after divorce?

 

If you would like to settle financial and property matters with your ex-spouse once and for all then a financial order from the family court is needed. Obtaining decree absolute does not mean that financial issues will automatically be resolved – the financial claims arising from the ending of the marriage will remain open.

 

We recommend that you resolve the financial claims that you and ex-spouse have against each other at the same time as the divorce suit. This will ensure that there is a financial clean break in relation to capital, pension, and sometimes income claims.

What is Ancillary Relief?

 

Ancillary Relief is now known as Financial Remedy.

What is Financial Remedy?

 

Financial Remedy is the name of the court process to resolve financial matters between you and your spouse. It is the process by which the court deals with all aspects of financial settlement, including transfers or sale of property, payment of lump sums by one party to the other, arrangements for maintenance, both spousal and in relation to your children, and how pensions are to be divided. It can also include how shares in a business are to be distributed between you, and who is to pay school fees, amongst other orders.

 

The court has the power to make a wide range of orders, too many to go into detail here, however the above are the ones most commonly required to be exercised.

What is Form A?

 

The Form A is the form which starts your application for Financial Remedy at court. Its issue sets in motion a number of directions requesting full financial disclosure from you and your spouse, and listing an initial directions hearing, the First Appointment.

The form now requires you to confirm whether you have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, and what the outcome of that meeting was. The government’s hope is that more couples will be able to resolve financial matters through mediation rather than through the court process, which will lead to fewer demands on the court’s resources, and lower costs for the couple.

 

In order to promote that, it is now a requirement to attend an initial mediation meeting, unless you can prove an exemption applies, such as that there has been domestic violence in the marriage and mediation is therefore inappropriate.

What is Form E?

 

Form E is the financial statement required to be completed and signed by you and exchanged with your spouse prior to the First Appointment. It is a highly detailed document, which requires you to set out in detail all aspects of your financial circumstances including details of all properties held, all bank accounts and investments, any interest in a business or partnership, pensions, all income from all sources.

 

It also requires you to set out your requirements for the future i.e. what your housing and other capital needs are, and what your income needs are both for you and your children. The form must be supported by documentary evidence, the requirements of which can seem onerous, however it is essential that the court have full knowledge of your financial circumstances before it makes an order.

  

Can I protect my inheritance on divorce?

 

Inheritance is generally treated by the family court as a ‘non-matrimonial’ asset. It is not automatically excluded from the matrimonial pot and is considered a financial resource available to you.

 

The key issue with inherited assets is whether there are other assets of the marriage which can meet your spouse’s and the children’s needs. If there are not sufficient assets of the marriage to do so, the court may award a greater share of the matrimonial assets to your spouse as you have the resource of the inherited money.

 

If, during the marriage the inherited money has been intermingled, for example the money has been used towards the purchase of the family home, paid off the mortgage or used towards matrimonial expenditure then it is difficult to argue that this sum should be ‘ring-fenced in your favour upon divorce. If the money has always been kept separate from the marriage then you are in a stronger position to argue the sum should be ring-fenced.

How much does financial settlement cost after divorce?

 

Working with our family solicitors based in Tunbridge Wells, the cost of resolving divorce and financial settlement depends on whether you are able to negotiate a compromise with your husband or wife. If you are able to easily negotiate a settlement, your legal fees could be as low as £2,000.

 

If negotiation is not successful, however, and you go to court it can sometimes costs tens of thousands of pounds. Our family lawyers based in Kent are committed to being transparent about the cost of your particular case and keeping your legal fees as low as possible.

Will I still have to pay spousal maintenance if my wife remarries?

 

No, remarriage automatically cancels out your liability to pay spousal maintenance although you will continue to be liable to pay child support if you have young children.

 

More questions?

 

If you have more questions please go to our FAQs on divorce. family mediation, custody and child maintenance and prenuptial agreements.

 

If you have a question that isn’t here or would like to speak to one of our family solicitors, then do get in touch with Alex Davies on 01892 506 326 or alex.davies@cripps.co.uk for a confidential, free, preliminary discussion regarding your situation.