If you and your spouse have agreed to a divorce, one of the biggest considerations is how you divide any assets you have. This is particularly important if you have children together. In the past this was referred to as ancillary relief but is now often referred to as a ‘divorce settlement’ or ‘divorce financial settlement’.
The assets that you will need to divide include:
There are two ways you can divide your assets following a divorce; settling out of court with a mediator, or letting a judge decide in court. Our experienced divorce solicitors can help whatever process is used.
We know how daunting dealing with finances during divorce can be, especially given what a significant impact this can have for your ability to make a clean break and have a financially secure future. Our team are here to make things easier for you.
The Family Law team at Wells Burcombe has a reputation for taking a sensible, sensitive approach to divorce finances, with a focus on getting the best possible financial arrangements for our clients. While we are always keen to avoid unnecessary conflict for our clients, we are also ready and willing to robustly defend our clients’ interests when the need arises.
We offer flexible payment options including fixed fees or monthly standing orders, as well as the possibility of deferring some fees where your financial situation is uncertain prior to reaching a financial settlement.
Our approach to divorce financial settlements and disputes
Mediation can be the quickest, easiest, cheapest and most amicable way to settle the division of assets. Mediation allows each party to suggest their own solutions and can be far more flexible than court decisions.
Once both sides agree a settlement, a Consent Order is drafted to make the agreement legally binding. We can offer advice and help to mediate as well as drafting the Consent Order. However, if mediation is unsuccessful then you can still take the case to court.
If mediation has failed or if you are exempt from mediation, due to domestic violence or another cause, your case will be taken to court for a judge to decide. The decision will be based on a number of factors including: the length of your marriage, age, earning ability, standard of living and your role within the marriage.
Our team of divorce lawyers will support and advise you through the process to ensure you receive a financial settlement that is fair for your circumstances.
Our divorce financial advice fees
We offer flexible payment options to cover the cost of divorce financial advice, including fixed fees or monthly standing orders to spread your costs where appropriate.
Fixed fee divorce financial advice
For straightforward matters, we can usually work on a fixed fee basis where we will agree a price in advance to complete all of the work needed. This gives you total transparency and certainty of key costs involved in your divorce financial settlement.
Fixed fee divorce financial advice can include help preparing for mediation, reviewing agreements made through mediation and applying to a family court for a Consent Order.
Divorce deferred fee agreements
Where appropriate, we can discuss a deferral of some of our fees until after a financial settlement has been agreed and you have funds available.
Divorce and finances FAQs
Do you need to go to court to get a divorce settlement?
In most cases, no. It is far more common these days for divorcing couples to sort out separating their finances through mediation or private negotiation.
Making a voluntary divorce financial settlement has a number of advantages, including generally being much faster and less costly than contentious court proceedings. It also allows you to keep control of decisions about your finances, rather than leaving this in the hands of a judge, and lets you keep your finances and the details of your settlement private.
In some cases, however, court proceedings may be necessary. This includes where a fair settlement cannot be agreed, where one party suspects the other of lying about their finances or where there has been a history of domestic abuse meaning the parties cannot work together to agree a settlement.
How are finances split in a divorce?
Under the law, the starting point is that a couple’s finances should be split 50:50 upon divorce. However, this is rarely how things actually work out.
Whether you are agreeing a divorce settlement amicably or need to go through the courts, the goal should be to achieve a settlement that is fair for both parties. This means a settlement that meets each person’s reasonable needs and, crucially, the needs of any children.
What are considered reasonable needs will depend on the circumstances and it can be hard to predict what a judge would consider a fair settlement. This is yet another reason why a negotiated settlement is usually the better option for most divorcing couples.
If you do apply to a court for a Financial Order to decide how your finances should be divided, the following will typically be considered when making a decision:
- The income of each spouse
- Other resources (e.g. savings) each spouse has
- The length of the marriage
- The financial needs of the parties
- The ages of the parties
What can be included in a divorce financial settlement?
All assets owned by either party, whether jointly or individually, should be considered as part of your divorce settlement. Common assets included in divorce settlements include:
- Your family home
- Second homes, holiday homes and investment properties
- Shares and investments
- Personal belongings e.g. cars and other vehicles
- Business assets
- International assets
- Assets held in trusts
Will an inheritance be included in a divorce settlement?
This is a complicated issue. Many people feel that inherited assets should not be included in divorce settlements, while others believe inherited wealth should be treated no differently to any other income or assets acquired during marriage.
There is no specific provision for inherited wealth under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, which is the main Act of Parliament covering divorce financial matters. Historically, family courts have treated the matter differently depending on the circumstances.
Ultimately, the answer for any individual divorce settlement is likely to come down to the circumstances, including the level of the inheritance, the needs of the parties and other factors, such as the level of other assets available.