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When you divorce or separate you will have to deal with:
- Income/maintenance issues.
- Capital e.g. your house, savings, shares.
The burning questions for most people will be “what will I get?” or “what will I have to pay?”
The first step to a fair settlement, is to ensure we have a clear and accurate picture of all assets. This process is called “disclosure”. Both partners must make full and frank disclosure of their financial position before negotiations can start. Once we have details of the assets, and agreed values, we can open negotiations to reach a settlement.
Most cases settle by negotiation between the couple and their lawyers. If necessary you can issue an application to Court to resolve your financial dispute; sometimes this is necessary to force the issue of disclosure or to establish a reasonable time frame for the process. Very few cases are actually resolved by a hearing in front of a Judge.
In divorce, judicial separation or the dissolution of a civil partnership, the court has the power to make a variety of orders; such as:-
- Periodical payments (i.e. maintenance).
- Transfer of property, where ownership of an asset is transferred to one partner as part of the overall settlement and given to the other.
- Payment of a lump sum.
- Pension attachment or pension sharing order. Divorce courts now have the power to divide pensions between spouses and civil partners.
The law sets out the criteria which must be taken into account when deciding financial settlements. There is no formula for the division of assets – it is a discretionary system. The first consideration is the welfare of any dependent children.
The Court must also take into account, your income, your savings, your housing needs, your pensions, the length of the marriage or civil partnership, your overall contributions, health and any other circumstances of the case. The court has to balance these criteria when considering the claims of each of the partners.
Different courts work to slightly different time-tables. Generally you need to allow about six to twelve months from the date we make the first application to a final hearing.