Achieving Financial Separation: A Guide

Achieving Financial Separation: A Guide

Achieving a financial separation can take many different forms. Financial settlements can often be a complicated consideration when separating from your partner: this is where I come in. I can provide comprehensive, bespoke guidance on your specific situation, and help you every step of the way. Get in touch with me today on 0161 509 6241 or email me at lindsay@lindsayjonesdivorcelawyer.co.uk.

What is a financial separation?

One form of financial separation could be, with full financial disclosure and negotiations, that you are able to reach a binding agreement which will be translated into a Court Order and is then legally binding and enforceable.

It could be that the framework of a Court timetable is necessary to focus each party’s minds (it is always possible for negotiations to take place alongside the structure of a Court timetable).

Whether you are negotiating or going down the Court route, before making any Order the Court has to consider a checklist of considerations. These are set out in Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, the main statute dealing with divorce and finance. For the majority of families going through a divorce, the financial division has to be a finely judged balancing exercise between the needs of the husband and wife, considering the children first and matching those needs from the overall financial resources.

Here is a summary of the headline considerations:

  • The needs of the children: This includes factors such as where the children will live and how much maintenance they require to meet their needs.
  • The duration of the marriage: Is it short, medium or long term marriage? The longer the marriage the more weight will be given to meeting the long-term needs of the spouse.
  • The age of the couple: The needs of a spouse vary according to their age, career prospects and their ability to save for retirement.
  • Contributions during the marriage: Maintaining the home and bringing up the children is valued as equally as being the main breadwinner.
  • Pensions and loss of widow’s benefits: Pension provision is to be considered and factored into the pot accordingly.
  • The financial resources of each spouse: This includes every resource or possible resource that either spouse may have in the foreseeable future and where relevant includes earning and borrowing capacity.
  • The needs of each spouse: This is an important factor and is divided between expenditure needs for maintenance and in terms of income and capital going forward.

Court procedure

The main benefits of going to Court are that:

  • The structure of a Court timetable is achieved so things are moving forward according to a strict framework.
  • If you are unable to agree the Court will make a decision for you.

The first appointment

A Form E has to be prepared and exchanged simultaneously, including the documents referred to in the form. Exchange takes place at least 35 days before the first appointment.

At least 14 days before the first appointment, both parties have to file and serve on the other:

  • A concise statement of issues;
  • A chronology setting out the key facts relating to the family;
  • A questionnaire, referable to the statement of issues, seeking further information and documents;
  • A notice in Form G stating whether each party will be able to proceed to the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (FDR) at the first appointment; and
  • At least 24 hours before the hearing a Form H (costs estimate) must be served on the other party.

What to expect at the first appointment

This is the first Court appointment. Both parties and their legal representative are required to attend.

A District Judge will examine the issues and consider the financial evidence.

The Court will also give directions on:

  • Whether the questions contained in each questionnaire are justified and whether they have to be answered;
  • Whether property valuations need to be carried out and, if so, on what basis; and
  • What other experts need to be appointed in terms of analysing pensions or business valuations.

Leapfrogging to an FDR

It is possible to combine the first appointment with the FDR appointment if both parties are sufficiently prepared. This contains costs and time because one Court appointment is required instead of two.

If the matter is treated as a First Appointment then an FDR will be listed.

If the matter is treated as an FDR a final hearing will be listed.

The final hearing

Following the FDR both parties have to carry out the directions ordered by the Court:

  • 14 days before the final hearing, the applicant must file at Court and serve on the respondent an open statement setting out the Orders that s/he proposes to ask the Court to make;
  • 7 days after receiving the Applicant’s statement, the Respondent must reciprocate by setting out the Orders that s/he intends to ask the Court to make;
  • Both parties must supply a written statement of costs (Form H).

What to expect at the final hearing

The Judge will consider the evidence of each party in turn, together with any expert witnesses called.

The Judge will make a decision and an Order in detailed terms, giving detailed reasons for the decision.

Contact Lindsay Jones Financial Settlement Solicitor Cheshire, Manchester, Altrincham, Lymm, Knutsford & Wilmslow today

I have many years of experience helping clients from a range of backgrounds achieve a successful divorce, with a mutually agreed financial settlement. Get in touch with me today for an initial consultation to find out how I can help you. Call on 0161 509 6241 or please complete the online contact form.