How do we sort our finance on divorce?
Separating from your husband or wife is inevitably a daunting prospect. There are a number of uncertainties when looking to the future both in relation to you finances and also where children are concerned who they will live with and how they will share their time between parents.
There are various methods of resolving issues concerning the breakdown of your relationship, in particular matters concerning the financial aspects associated with your marriage. At the first meeting with a family solicitor, they should explore with you which of these methods would be best for your own situation.
Mediation is a process whereby you and your spouse meet with a specially trained family mediator who can assist you both to reach pragmatic decisions in relation to the issues involved in the breakdown of your relationship. The family mediator is completely impartial. Before sitting down with the mediator together, you and your spouse would each attend an individual assessment appointment with the mediator so that the mediator can ensure that each of you are willing to engage in the mediation process and also that the mediator feels it is a suitable way forward. If the answer to both is yes, the mediator would then have a joint meeting with you both or a series of joint meetings.
Mediation is not an alternative to legal advice and it is important that you obtain legal advice as part of and to complement the mediation process.
The mediator will ask you and your spouse to complete financial disclosure as part of the mediation process. This is known as the ‘information sharing’ stage. Once you and your spouse are content that full disclosure has been provided including any valuations relating to properties or business interests for example, the mediator would then consider options with you both as to how you may decide to deal with any assets, liabilities, income and outgoings.
Once you have explored options with your spouse the mediator will assist you in reaching an overall agreement on property and finances. The proposals reached will then be incorporated into a mediation document called a Memorandum of Understanding. You and your spouse can then agree to send this to your solicitors for them to formalise on a legal basis.
This is a process whereby you, your spouse and your respective solicitors would all sign up to the collaborative process. You would sign a participation agreement committing to seek to resolve all outstanding issues concerning your property and finances without issuing Court proceedings. The collaborative process would involve the four of you (and any associated professionals as you all may agree should be instructed) having a series of four way meetings with the view to reaching an overall financial settlement. As with the mediation process, you and your spouse will exchange financial disclosure as part of the collaborative process.
If the collaborative process was to break down for whatever reason then on the basis that you had all signed up to the participation agreement then you would need to instruct a new solicitor, as would your spouse to commence any Court proceedings, if required
This process involves negotiations surrounding your property and finances taking place either:-
(a) Directly between yourself and your spouse and then instructing a solicitor to prepare legal documentation to put into legal effect an agreement you had reached directly with your spouse.
(b) Alternatively and more commonly the traditional negotiation process would involve your solicitor providing you with advice as to a fair financial settlement following the exchange of financial disclosure and then putting proposals forward on your behalf to your spouse’s solicitor either via a round table meeting or via telephone calls or letters between solicitors.
Court proceedings should always be a last resort in family law terms. They are very expensive and can take a long time to conclude. Court proceedings can also be a stressful time for both parties. However sometimes court proceedings are necessary whether to seek to resolve urgent and complex matters of law and/or where other methods as summarised above have failed or are not appropriate.
If court proceedings are issued by you or your spouse in relation to finances, the court will timetable a number of steps that you each need to take before the court will considering making a determination as to how assets, liabilities and income are to be split between you. Unless you can reach an agreement with your spouse within the court process, the proceedings will usually involve at least two hearings, more commonly three, and at the final hearing a judge will decide a financial order.
How can we help?
At Consilia Legal our specialist family law team are experienced and highly regarded family solicitors, accredited mediators and collaborative lawyers. We are fully experienced and knowledgeable in all methods of resolving finances on divorce. We can explore with you what method will best achieve your objectives in the most cost-effective manner. If you would like to speak to one of our specialist family experts please contact our team on 0113 322 9222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.