Divorce Financial Settlements

Dealing with the financial side of your divorce is a key step towards allowing you and your former partner to move on and start living truly independent lives. However, it is essential to get the right legal guidance so you can get a fair settlement that meets your and any children’s current and likely future needs.

At IBB we have an accredited and highly respected team of divorce lawyers to advise on the complex issues that can arise in relation dividing the marital assets upon divorce. We have experience of dealing with high net worth matters for individuals who have complex financial circumstances, including where there are multiple properties, business ownership, pension entitlements and international assets to consider.

Dealing with the financial consequences of a divorce can be difficult.

Watch our short video for a simple, step-by-step guide to the process.

In most cases, we can secure a financial settlement that meets your needs without resorting to court proceedings. By using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation, arbitration and collaborative law, we can help you to avoid court proceedings and resolve matters in a cost effective and amicable way.

Under English law, the starting point is for marital assets to be divided equally. However, there is usually a good reason for why there should be a departure from this in any given case. This will depend upon the specific circumstances of each case.

In many divorces, dealing with assets will also involve looking at short, medium and long-term scenarios, especially where there are young children, or where there may be insufficient assets to maintain your current lifestyle

Find out more about the financial implications of divorce.

To speak to a member of our family law team about the financial side of your divorce or to arrange an initial fixed fee consultation, please contact your local IBB Solicitors office in Chesham, Reading or Uxbridge, or email familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk.

Why IBB Solicitors are the right choice for your divorce and financial settlement

Our Family Law team has exceptional experience dealing with all of the financial aspects of divorce, being recognised leaders in handling medium and high value divorce settlements for clients all over the UK and beyond.

Our expertise includes:

  • dividing assets
  • Finding & tracing assets during divorce
  • Property & divorce
  • Dealing with business assets during divorce
  • Divorce & inheritance issues
  • Family trusts
  • Asset protection & ringfencing during divorce
  • Capital Gains Tax & divorce
  • Overseas assets
  • Offshore trusts
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • High Net Worth divorce

The team is headed by Amanda Melton, a highly respected family lawyer with many years of experience, who specialises in divorces settlements involving complex financial assets for medium to high net worth clients.

Amanda has been recognised in the Legal 500 for combining “exceptional professional knowledge with strong interpersonal skills” as well as for her “straight-talking approach and honesty about the potential pitfalls of a case”.

Our Family Law team is ranked Tier 1 by the Legal 500 for Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Middlesex, as well as being Band 2 ranked by Chambers & Partners for Watford, Uxbridge and the surrounding area. This affirms our status as one of the leading teams of family lawyers in the South East.

A number of our divorce lawyers are members of Resolution, a network of family lawyers who aim to remove conflict from family law. This reflects the emphasis we place on helping you and your loved ones reach a financial settlement as easily as possible.

How we can help you achieve a divorce settlement that meets your needs

In most divorces the family home is the main asset. There are many different methods of determining how to deal with the family home, which can include:

  • One partner buying the other out
  • Selling and dividing the proceeds in agreed proportion
  • A deferred sale agreement whereby one party stays in the property until their children reach a certain age and then the property is sold

A common problem inflaming divorce finance disputes is disclosure. In some marriages, whether in anticipation of divorce or otherwise, one or both parties may have deliberately kept certain assets or debts secret, or perhaps transferred assets into other legal entities to try to prevent those assets from being included in the divorce pot.

There is a duty on both parties to make full disclosure of assets to each other but, in reality, this does not always happen. Where the wife or husband suspect that there are hidden or dissipated assets, expert advice and investigation may be required.

A number of high-profile cases including the well reported case of Prest v Petrodel show just how bitter these scenarios can become. In that case, the husband was prepared to go to prison for contempt of court rather than make full disclosure of his assets.

For some types of assets, negotiation may be useful because it may not be the best time for the assets to be sold. Examples of these types of assets include additional properties such as buy-to-let properties or quoted shares. Particular difficulties and issues can also apply to ownership of a business by one or both spouses.

Dealing with a privately-owned business presents particular difficulties. If one spouse owns a business or is a shareholder in a business, the other spouse suddenly becoming part or full owner can change the dynamics and possibly damage the business at a time when the income generated may be vital for paying maintenance going forward.

Valuing a privately-owned business is also far from straight-forward. There are many different valuation methods and the typical scenario is that the owning spouse effectively is the business. If they are removed or their share in the business is watered down, they may no longer be as motivated to make the business a success going forward, which could lead to the business losing value or even failing altogether.

Where appropriate a business can be valued by an expert to understand the value so that the finances can ultimately be resolved.

Pensions are often highly valuable assets, so it is important to make sure they are properly considered in any divorce settlement. This is important both where the pension is already being received and where it may not be taken for many years to come as it can ensure both parties maintain a good standard of living in later life.

There are several different ways that a pension can be divided on divorce. This is a complex area and expert advice from an actuary will be required in most cases with any significant pension.

It is not unusual for either or both parties to prefer a final financial resolution. It can certainly assist with both being able to move on and start a new life. However, where there are children, there is often no immediate clean break and both parties will have liberty to apply to the Court if circumstances change, so that different income provision is needed until the children reach adulthood.

The Court has a duty to consider a Clean Break where possible. However, often this is not possible as it is dependent upon the parties’ financial positions and individual circumstances. You can have a clean break on capital and pensions but whether or not there is a clean break on income will depend upon your individual circumstances and therefore a clean break in this regard can be deferred, for example until your youngest child is 18 or has ceased full-time secondary education.

It is often necessary to secure ongoing maintenance so that you can enjoy the same standard of living as during your marriage. There are various issues to consider, including your reasonable needs and how long maintenance should be paid for (particularly if you have long term needs).

If you wish to live separately from your spouse but are not yet ready for divorce, or have personal, cultural or religious reasons for not getting divorced, a legal separation can be a good alternative.

With a legal separation, you can reach an agreement with your spouse  as to how your assets will be divided and what, if any, ongoing financial support either party is entitled to. You can also agree where any children you have together will live and what contact they will have with each parent.

Our family lawyers are highly experienced with helping couples to reach an agreement that is then recorded in a separation agreements under even the most challenging circumstances, including where there are international considerations and complex finances that need to be taken into account.

We can help you achieve a fair resolution that allows you to start living independently.

How we remove unnecessary conflict from the divorce and financial negotiations

Wherever possible, we will seek to secure a financial settlement without court proceedings. Agreeing to a voluntary settlement outside of a court helps to minimise conflict, while also normally meaning you can achieve financial separation faster and with lower legal fees.

However, where a voluntary agreement cannot be made or this approach is not appropriate, we can support you in applying to a court for a Financial Order to determine how your finances should be divided. We can also help you to secure specialist representation from highly regarded barristers where required.

Using mediation for your divorce settlement

Mediation is now a very common approach for dealing with the financial side of divorce. It is usually faster and less costly than the alternatives, as well as allowing you and your former partner to keep complete control over the details of your financial settlement.

One of our mediators can meet with you and your partner/husband  over a series of sessions where you will discuss what you want to achieve from your settlement and any particular points of disagreement that you need to resolve. Most settlements can be agreed in around three to five sessions.

The mediator’s role is to keep the discussions on track and defuse any potential conflict, helping each session to be as productive as possible. While any agreement you reach through mediation will be voluntary, you can make the agreement legally binding having the agreement drafted into a Consent Order.

Our family mediators include IBB Solicitors Partner Kate Ryan, who has particular expertise with using mediation to secure high value divorce settlements.

Collaborative law for divorce settlements

For more complex financial situations, it is often helpful to have expert advice on hand while negotiating a settlement. Taking a collaborative law approach offers exactly this.

You, your spouse and your respective lawyers (who must be collaboratively trained) will meet for a series of four-way ‘round the table’ discussions. The aim is for you and your former partner to agree the details of your settlement with the benefit of advice and guidance from your own legal representatives.

Having specialist legal advice on hand can make it much easier to sort out more complicated financial issues. You can also have other professionals, such as accountants and financial advisers, sit in on the session, making sure you have access to all the expert advice you need to make the right decisions about your settlement.

Before starting the process, all parties will sign a collaborative law agreement. This agreement means that anything disclosed in the sessions cannot be used in later court proceedings (if you fail to reach an agreement) and your respective lawyers cannot represent you in any subsequent application for a Financial Order. Everyone will thus be fully committed to making the process a success.

Arbitration

If you cannot agree a settlement with your former partner, but would still prefer to avoid court proceedings, arbitration can be a very effective alternative.

One of our trained arbitrators can review your marital assets and the personal needs of both parties, as well as any children and other dependants. They will then make a decision on a financial settlement for you.

Both you and your former partner will need to sign an agreement to abide by the decision of the arbitrator and their decision will be binding once made.

This approach allows you and your ex-partner to agree who will make the decision, rather than it being left to whichever judge is assigned to your case if you apply for a Financial Order. It also means you can usually get a financial settlement in place within a matter of weeks, rather than waiting many months for a court-ordered settlement.

Financial Remedy Proceedings

If you cannot agree a settlement, or you feel this approach is not appropriate for your situation, we can assist you in applying to a court to for a Financial Order. This means that ultimately a District Judge will make the final decision over how your marital assets should be divided at a final hearing (the third hearing in the process). However, there are several opportunities to try and resolve matters at Court but by consent as the Court is keen to support this where possible.

We can support you through the court process, including helping to prepare your case and representing you in court where required. Our goal is to make court proceedings as easy as possible on you, advising you at every stage, while ensuring you receive a fair settlement that meets your long-term needs.

How long does it take

This will depend on how complex your finances are and whether you can agree to a voluntary settlement or have to go through court proceedings.

Our fees for financial advice

The cost of achieving a financial settlement is always an important consideration, so we want to be as clear and transparent about our fees as possible, while offering a number of different funding options to match your circumstances.

Initial fixed fee consultation

We offer all clients an initial consultation for a reduced fixed fee. This gives you an opportunity to explain your situation and what you hope to achieve, as well any specific points of concern. We can then talk you through your options, so you can make an informed choice about how to move forward.

Fixed fee financial advice

Some aspects of divorce financial settlements can be dealt with on a fixed fee basis, for example, we can charge a flat rate for each session of mediation or to draft a Consent Order if matters are straight forward and agreed. This gives you certainty over the costs involved.

Individual charge-out rates

We can also work to a pre-agreed hourly rate, where you will pay for the exact amount of time we spend working on your financial settlement. This approach means we can offer exactly as much or as little support as you need to achieve a favourable divorce settlement.

To find out more about our fees for divorce financial advice, please take a look at our pricing policy.

Speak to our divorce solicitors in West London, Buckinghamshire and the Thames Valley

To discuss how we can assist you with making a financial settlement, or assist with any other aspect of your divorce, please contact our friendly, expert divorce lawyers now.

You can contact your local IBB Solicitors office in Chesham, Reading or Uxbridge, or email familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk.

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