Going through a divorce or dissolving a civil partnership is a stressful time for everyone involved, and there is often much to take care of – both practically and emotionally.
One of the most important matters that must be decided by a couple when they decide to divorce or dissolve a civil partnership is their financial situation. However, there is a common misconception that a couple’s finances are dealt with as part of divorce or dissolution proceedings and that any financial ties they had to their partner are automatically severed when they legally separate.
This is not the case. Divorce or dissolution is only the legal end to your marriage or civil partnership. Detaching yourself from your ex-partner financially needs to be done separately. Unless you take steps to settle financial matters with your ex, one person could make a financial claim against the other, even years after getting divorced.
The only way to safeguard your finances now, and in the future, is by getting a financial consent order. In this blog, our team of Family Solicitors answers your most frequently asked questions about financial orders and explains why they are so important.
What is financial disclosure?
The first step separating couples need to take towards agreeing on a financial settlement is for both to make full and frank financial disclosure.
This involves both partners independently providing information about their assets, finances and liabilities and is usually compiled in a financial statement (known as ‘Form E’).
Completing Form E is a legal requirement for those cases that end up before the court, and is good practice for all divorcing couples, as the information included provides an accurate reflection of matrimonial wealth, which is then used to ensure a fair settlement.
Form E requires information about a person’s income, bank accounts, property, mortgages, shares, and pensions, and is notoriously complex. However, an experienced family solicitor will be able to assist in completing the relevant documentation.
A specialist divorce solicitor will also be able to help negotiate between you and your ex-partner or their legal representative to ensure that you agree on a fair settlement that you are happy with, either by working with you themselves or by recommending an external mediator.
What is a financial consent order?
Once you and your ex-partner have reached a consensus on dividing your assets, your solicitor will draft a financial consent order and submit it to the court for approval. A consent order will list your assets, including any pensions, and show how these will be divided. It also prohibits either person from making a financial claim against the other in the future.
Even if you don’t have any assets, it is important to end the financial commitment between you and your partner. This can be done by way of a clean break order, which is a form of consent order that specifies that neither person will make a financial claim against the other in the future (ruling out any claims against future inheritances, lottery wins, etc).
If you have children, we will also discuss with you the provision of child maintenance in the consent order.
Do I have to attend court to get a financial order approved?
Getting a financial consent order approved does not usually involve a court hearing. Rather, your solicitor will ensure all the relevant documentation is completed and send the signed forms and copies to the court dealing with your paperwork.
A judge will approve your consent order to make it legally binding if they think it’s fair. If they do not think it’s fair, they can ask you to change it.
You’ll usually need to wait until you have your conditional order or decree nisi before asking the court to approve your consent order.
You can learn more about the process on the Government’s website by clicking here.
How long does it take to get a financial order?
Once the financial consent order has been submitted to the court, it usually takes around one month for it to be approved.
What if my ex-partner and I can’t agree how to divide our assets?
If you and your ex-partner cannot agree on a financial settlement with the help of your solicitors and/or after mediation, a court can decide on a financial settlement for you. This is known as the ‘contested’ route or an ‘ancillary relief order’.
Courts will make a ruling on a settlement based on various factors, and there is a risk you will have less control over the eventual terms of the settlement.
Divorce Financial Order Solicitors Alton and Hampshire
At Bookers & Bolton, we understand that communication between ex-partners can be strained, and you might want help to sort out your finances and negotiate the terms of your divorce financial settlement.
Our specialist financial settlement solicitors in Alton and Hampshire will be able to provide you with practical advice regarding all divorce financial settlement matters, consent orders, ancillary relief proceedings, financial orders, and clean break agreements.
At Bookers & Bolton, our Family team has a reputation for offering a high-quality personal service that is tailored to meet your needs. We are a well-established firm proud to serve our local community and beyond.