The Breakdown Of A Marriage or Civil Partnership
When you are facing a divorce or the end of a civil partnership you need to know where you stand financially. You may be concerned about your immediate financial security or responsibilities, unclear on how to approach the distribution of assets or worried about the kind of financial settlement you might end up with.
Family law work and the financial issues that arise upon the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership has become increasingly complex. The family home, businesses, pensions, trusts, international issues, whatever the issues you are facing we never lose sight of the fact that every family breakdown is different and what you need from us is an understanding of your personal circumstances and your objectives.
Our respected family law team are experienced in dealing with complex and challenging financial cases. It is not just about understanding the law. We listened carefully to what you say about your circumstances so that we are clear on what matters most to you.
When dealing with financial matters in family law we are committed to reducing conflict where possible but if a court application is necessary, we will be proactive in pursuing such application to get the best possible outcome for you.
We have the ability to call on expertise from colleagues in other disciplines across our firm which means that we can assist you with other matters arising from the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership such as the transfer of a family home or other property, setting up a trust, making or changing your Will.
Our family law partner Saika Alam is a qualified Collaborative Family Law lawyer which means that in the right circumstances she can assist you in reaching a negotiated settlement outside the court process.
Take advantage of our free telephone enquiry to find out how we can support you through the minefield of a financial settlement.
The Court’s Approach
How family finances are arranged on divorce or the end of a civil partnership does not follow a fixed formula. Instead the court will share out the assets in a way that is fair to both of you.
You may have a very different view about what “fair “means. You will need to know what the law says about what is fair so that you can:
reach an agreement or a court outcome that takes account of your legal rights and responsibilities
turn your agreement into a legally binding court order (called a “consent order “)
The court has a very wide discretion to decide who gets what. This flexibility allows the court to tailor make an arrangement and take account of each family’s individual circumstances. However, this flexibility can make it difficult to predict with complete certainty the outcome of any court application.
The Court’s Checklist When Dividing Family Income and Capital
The Court’s checklist is out in Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The Court will take account of the following:
The welfare of any of your children under the age of 18 (the children will come first)
Your income, what you can earn (known as your earning capacity) the financial resources available to you, your financial needs, obligations, and responsibilities both now and in the future
The standard of living that you enjoyed before the breakdown of your marriage or your civil partnership
Your age and the length of your marriage or civil partnership
Any physical or other disability
Contributions you have made or will make in the future towards the family. (Contributions are not only financial contributions but also your contribution in looking after the home or caring for the children)
Any benefits that might be lost by ending the marriage or civil partnership such as a pension
The behaviour of a husband, wife, or civil partner (this only applies in exceptional cases)
The Orders That The Court Can Make
In financial proceedings the Court can make a range of orders to divide money, property and income between a divorcing couple or a couple ending a civil partnership.
The orders are:
Property transfer orders – normally to transfer a family home or other house or company shares
Orders for sale – the Court can order that a house is sold and the monies from that sale distributed between the husband and wife or the civil partners
Lump-sum orders – these are cash payments and they can be paid by one party to the other in return for the transfer of the family home for example
Pension sharing orders – the court can divide a UK based pension between a husband and wife or between civil partners to provide for retirement
Spousal maintenance orders – These are monthly payments to support a husband or wife or civil partner who needs such support. Spousal maintenance will normally be ordered where one person’s income is not enough to meet his or her monthly expenditure
Child maintenance orders – these are normally dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service but sometimes the child maintenance calculated by the Child Maintenance Service can be topped up by the Court where this is necessary
Examples Of Our Experience:
Successfully appealing an award of spousal maintenance made against our client who was a footballer– we thought that the figure for child maintenance our client was asked to pay was disproportionate to his income. The Court of Appeal agreed and set aside the Child Maintenance Order
Negotiating a financial settlement following a divorce with a very substantial buy to let property portfolio – we negotiated an agreement in a bitterly contested case in which extended family members claimed they had a share in the property portfolio. We assisted our client in avoiding a very expensive final hearing and we ensured that the property transfers were timed to minimise the capital gains tax that was payable
Achieving a fair settlement following contested proceedings for a high net worth client – there were complex issues regarding a husband’s shares in a company that required a formal company valuation.