Financial and Property Matters in Divorce

If you finalise your divorce and do not go on to finalise your financial and property matters by lodging a Consent Order at the Court, you both run the risk of either party coming back to the other at a future date to make a claim. For example, your Decree Absolute may be granted signalling the conclusion of your divorce and you and your spouse may decide that you have reached agreement yourselves over finances and property and there is no need to lodge any form of agreement at the Court. This agreement is not legally binding and does not prevent either one of you from making a claim against the other some years down the line. The only bar would be if you had remarried. However, if your spouse had not remarried, he/she is not barred from claiming against you. Do you want to run the risk of having to defend against such a claim in the future?

You ought to consider:

1. Property issues
2. Mortgages
3. Endowment Policies
4. Bank accounts
5. Savings
6. Shares
7. Pension issues
8. Child maintenance and costs for further education, etc.
9. Income
10. Debt
11. Insurance Policies
12. Future income
13. Business assets

This list is not exhaustive but should serve as a guide as to all the types of financial matters that may be relevant.

It is important to consider and to discuss how you are both going to deal with the financial and property matters.

Mediation and Finalising Financial and Property Matters

Your starting point for finalising your financial and property matters would be for both of you to provide full financial disclosure. It is only possible to begin to make decisions regarding these matters once both of you have seen this disclosure and the procedure is exactly the same whether you carry this out yourselves, through a mediator, through the collaborative process, through your solicitors or through the Court.

Both of you would need to complete a financial statement – the form is available from http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk and is known as Financial Statement for Financial Order or Form E. The form is quite comprehensive and goes into detail everything that you may possibly own.

Once you have provided full financial disclosure, it is then possible to begin to make decisions between yourselves as to how your assets will be distributed following your divorce.

If you both do not provide full financial disclosure, or something hasn’t been disclosed, you run the risk of having any agreement that you ultimately reach being set aside by the Court.

There is assistance available for dealing with financial and property matters and the route you choose to take will determine the costs that you are likely to incur.

At Divorce Nicely, mediation is offered and this is the most cost-effective way of dealing with these matters. Financial disclosure is made in the presence of each other and the mediator so any discrepancies can be cleared up immediately or marked as action points to be cleared up yourselves prior to the next mediation session. Immediately there are significant savings in terms of time and costs.

In addition, at Divorce Nicely you can both be pointed in the direction of other professionals if you need further information on different matters. For instance: an independent financial adviser specialising in pensions can assist with exploring with both of you the best way of dealing with your pension assets; if you have a business, an independent accountant or valuer may be best-placed to advise on the valuation of business assets on behalf of both of you; and an independent mortgage broker can assist you in determining your mortgage capability and point you in the direction of the best mortgage deal for your particular circumstances.

Contrast This With Dealing With Your Financial Disclosure Through Solicitors:

(a)       Each of you instructs your own solicitor.  Your solicitor requests that you produce your financial information.  You provide this in dribs and drabs and your solicitor tells you each time what else they are waiting for.  Each telephone call, letter and contact escalates costs. Your spouse is incurring similar costs.

(b)       Your solicitors then go through your own financial disclosure raising any issues with each of you if anything appears to be missing.

(c)        Your solicitors then exchange financial disclosure with each other.

(d)       Your solicitor then raises any issues with your spouse’s solicitor for any missing information.

(e)       Once financial disclosure is complete, your respective solicitors then begin negotiating with each other, each time keeping you informed of what is going on, charging for each time they contact you, each time they have to chase the other solicitor.

All of this takes a lot of time and the costs are increasing with each letter and telephone call.   The procedure is cumbersome and it is little wonder that costs significantly escalate.

If you and your spouse are able to deal with these matters through the assistance of a mediator, your costs will be much, much less than dealing with matters through solicitors. In fact, mediation fees between you are usually less than one solicitor’s fees for one of you.

For more information on how to keep your costs down if you are going through divorce and separation, please visit my website at:  www.divorcenicely.com

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.