Dividing assets – Expert family law advice in South West London and Surrey
The reason for the breakdown of your marriage will rarely have an impact on how the family finances are dealt with. The court will treat the financial matters arising from your divorce separately to the divorce itself, though proceedings usually run alongside each other and most petitioners in a divorce suit will not apply for decree absolute until the finances have been addressed.
How the finances of divorcing couples are dealt with can be a difficult and contentious issue. We use our expertise and experience to help you achieve the best possible settlement, as no two cases are the same.
This includes using alternatives to court proceedings such as mediation and collaborative law.
We will work with you to provide clear tailored advice to achieve the best possible financial settlement for you.
We advise on all financial aspects following divorce including:
- The division and transfer of property
- Business assets
- Pensions both in the UK and abroad
- Spousal and child maintenance
- Interim maintenance
- Overseas assets
- Emergency orders such as freezing orders
- Enforcement of financial orders
- Variation of spousal maintenance orders
We can also assist separating partners in civil partnerships.
You can resolve the finances directly with your spouse, at mediation or through solicitor negotiations. It is important that you provide an honest and complete account of your finances and exchange key financial documents such as bank statements, pay slips, pension statements and recent property valuations before negotiating a settlement. Once an agreement is reached it must be embodied in a consent order and sent to the court to be approved, once decree nisi has been pronounced. Once approved, the agreement will be legally binding and enforceable.
Even if you do not own any joint assets you should still have a consent order approved by the court. Without an approved court order, you will remain financially linked to your spouse until a ‘clean break’ order is approved by the court. If your earnings increase significantly, you receive a large inheritance or win the lottery, a clean break order will provide certainty that your spouse will not be able to make a financial claim against you in the future. A clean break will not be appropriate in all cases so please contact us for further advice.
The family home is a matrimonial asset even if it is registered in the sole name of one spouse. The starting point for a division of matrimonial property is 50/50 with consideration being given to your respective housing needs and the needs of any minor children. If the family home is in the sole name of your spouse, you should register a matrimonial home rights notice against the property which will prevent your spouse from selling or mortgaging the property without your knowledge.
Spousal maintenance is based on the income needs of the financially weaker spouse. If there is a shortfall between their income and outgoings the higher earning spouse may have to pay spousal maintenance. You will have to negotiate how much is to be paid and for how long, considering the standard of living during the marriage and the paying party’s income. An order can be made on a ‘joint lives’ basis or for a fixed term depending on the circumstances of the case. Spousal maintenance is a complex area, so it is worth taking further advice.
You can make an application to the court for a financial remedy order should you be unable to reach an agreement or negotiations break down. It is a requirement to attend mediation before making a court application. The court will set a timetable for the resolution of the finances and there are usually three hearings including a final hearing. Even if court proceedings have started you can still reach an agreement at any stage of the proceedings – but it is important that you seek legal advice at an early stage.