Upon a separation or divorce the most contentious area to be dealt with in many cases is the division of finance. It is therefore important to have the right advice and legal support in such situations. The sorting out of financial matters on a divorce is referred to as 'ancillary relief'. Most of the law in this area is governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA), which sets out the factors that the courts must take into account in deciding what financial orders to make. Although this is a pretty complex area of law, in summary the Act directs the courts to look at the following issues before deciding:
In our experience most people want their solicitor to advise them on how best to reach an amicable settlement with a fair division of the assets thereby avoiding the stress, anxiety and cost of contested court proceedings. Our expert team of family lawyers will always try to achieve this aim where it is possible.
Mediation services can also help couples reach agreement on key issues. However, a solicitor will still be needed to advise on the implications of any agreement and adapt it into an order, which can be enforceable by the courts.
The starting point for any financial negotiations must always be full disclosure of each parties’ personal assets, to ensure that everything is included in the settlement to be shared. Financial arrangements can be settled through a clean break order, which ends the financial obligations between the couple if this is appropriate. In certain circumstances maintenance (either open ended or for a fixed period) may be appropriate. Child maintenance can be agreed between the parties but in the absence of an agreement this issue has to be referred to the Child Support Agency. The Court does have limited powers to make orders in respect of children and we can advise you when this might be appropriate.
Where a family's main asset is the family home and there are children, the first consideration will always be to make sure that a suitable home is maintained for them. In some cases the family home can be sold and the proceeds divided between the couple. This is not always done in equal shares. The property could also be transferred to one spouse with the other receiving a greater share of other assets. Another approach allows one person to stay in the house with the other keeping an interest in the property, receiving their share when it is sold or when the children come of age.
To advise you on your position in regard to the family finances, we will need to obtain full details of all your assets, as well as those held or owned by your spouse. This is can be a complicated process and requires complete honesty from both parties. Each circumstance will be assessed individually.
Our staff are available to discuss these issues with you in the privacy of our offices or, in certain circumstances, we can come to your home. To arrange an appointment, please use our enquiry email facility or contact one of the team directly. Your enquiry will be dealt with total confidentiality.
For more infomation please contact one of the following:
|Patrick Langrishe||Partner||Budleigh Salterton|
|Mark Arden||Senior Solicitor||Crediton|
|Ida Merrison - currently on maternity leave||Solicitor & Family Mediator||Exeter|