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Divorce Settlements and Finances FAQ

Below are answers to some of the questions we are most frequently asked about Divorce settlements and finances. Please click on a link for more information or contact us for a consultation.

What is a clean break financial agreement?

A clean break is where all finances are finalised at the point an agreement is implemented. It usually involves a split of the assets between you with no ongoing spousal maintenance although this does not affect child maintenance, which is a separate issue.

The Courts will try and achieve a clean break wherever possible, although in some cases it may not be appropriate.

If sufficient assets exist to enable the party who would be liable to pay spousal maintenance to transfer assets of a suitable amount, then this can negate the payment of spousal maintenance on an ongoing basis.

If a clean break is accepted by both parties and the Court, then neither party can try to claim additional assets or maintenance at a later date if their circumstances change.

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Will we have to go to Court to sort out the finances?

In most cases you will not have to go to Court. The majority of financial settlements are resolved by negotiations between the parties and theircontact us respective solicitors. If agreement can be reached at an early stage it is possible that the Court order can be obtained without either party having to attend Court.

Where a settlement cannot be reached out of Court, for example if one party is being un-cooperative, then an application to the Court may be the only way to resolve issues.

This situation should be avoided if possible because of the cost implications of going to Court as well as the fact that both parties will lose any control of the settlement if the District Judge has to rule on settlement terms.

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Can I get spousal maintenance from my ex-partner following a divorce?

Depending on a number of factors you may be entitled to receive ongoing maintenance from your ex-spouse. These factors are:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living before the divorce
  • Your respective needs and the needs of any dependent children
  • Your respective incomes from all available sources
  • Your respective future earnings capability
  • The contribution made to the marriage, either financial or by caring for children and looking after the family home

For example; a young couple with no children who have been married for a short time and both are working. In this case it may be fair for them both to leave the marriage with no ongoing financial ties and taking with them what they brought into the marriage.

Another example; a couple who have been married for 25 years and by agreement the wife gave up a well paid job to bring up the family at home, while the husband became the sole bread winner. In this case the wife’s future earnings capability may have been severely compromised due to time out of the workplace and loss of up to date skills.

The Courts would not want to see the wife penalised for her lack of earnings ability and they also place a high value on the role of the homemaker. A settlement may include the wife receiving half of the joint assets, as well as ongoing spousal maintenance.

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Who will pay the legal fees for a divorce?

Both parties will need to have their own solicitor and each will be responsible for paying their resulting fees.

In some cases it can be negotiated as part of the financial settlement that one person will pay some or all of the other’s legal fees.

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How long will it take to reach a financial settlement?

A settlement can take anywhere from 6 weeks to upwards of 12 months to finalise.
Many factors will affect how long the settlement takes to reach including:

  • The complexity of the financial affairs (and whether assets need to be valued by independent experts)
  • Whether parties come to an agreement by negotiation or whether they have to go to Court
  • Whether both parties co-operate fully with the process

In most cases the settlement should take no longer than a few months.

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Am I entitled to part of my partner’s Pension on divorce?

Pensions are treated as an asset of the marriage. This maycontact us be of particular relevance in a long marriage where one party has worked and built up a substantial pension pot, while the other has been the homemaker and brought up the children with no pension fund of their own.

If this is the case then the party without a pension may have a claim over the other’s future pension entitlement, otherwise they would be disadvantaged.

This asset could be shared in a number of ways:

  • Payment of a lump sum to the value of the share of the Pension fund
  • Transfer of other assets (such as a greater share of the family home)
  • In cases where sufficient other assets don’t exist an order can be made for the pension to be shared. This involves funds from the existing pension pot being taken out and put into a pension in the name of the other spouse.

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Our Family department staff includes a member of Resolution. Members of Resolution are required to follow the Resolution code of practice which commits family lawyers to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational way. Instead family law disputes are dealt with in a constructive way preserving people’s dignity and encouraging agreements.

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