Financial Settlements: Your Questions Answered (FAQ's)

  1. My wife and I want a clean break. How can we make this legally binding?

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    You need to get a consent order drafted. After the decree nisi stage has been reached in the divorce (conditional order stage in the case of civil partnerships), the consent order can be submitted to court together with a short form of financial disclosure so that the court can check that the clean break is reasonably fair. The clean break will not be legally binding until (1) the consent order has been checked by a judge and stamped and (2) the decree absolute has been granted (final order in the case of civil partnerships).

  2. How does the court decide on the financial settlement?

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    There are no ‘rules’, only guidelines as to what the court should consider when determining a financial settlement. The settlement must be ‘fair’ to both parties. The court will look at a whole list of statutory factors. It must give first consideration to the welfare of any minor children. It must also look at things like the age of the parties and the length of the marriage or civil partnership, their financial resources and obligations, their earning capacities, any relevant illnesses or disabilities. In most cases, the most important factor is the parties’ respective needs.

  3. I heard something in the news about a consent order being important. I am getting divorced. Do I need one?

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    Yes. Anyone who gets divorced or dissolves their civil partnership can potentially make a financial claim against their former spouse or civil partner for provision such as lump sums, maintenance or a pension sharing order. The only way to bring these claims to an end is to obtain a financial order made by the court which provides for all claims to be dismissed. When this order is made by agreement, it is called a consent order. If you and your ex have agreed what will happen to your financial affairs, it is a straightforward but extremely important process to get a consent order in place to provide you with certainty for the future.

  4. Do I have to tell my ex about my financial situation in order to get a clean break settlement?

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    Yes. You will both need to complete a relatively short form called a ‘Statement of Information’ which provides a summary of assets, liabilities, net income, pension provision and some other basic details. You each need to sign a declaration to say that you have seen the other person’s information before the documentation can be sent to court.

  5. I am concerned that my wife is going to sell her business without telling me. What can I do?

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    Within financial court proceedings associated with divorce or civil partnership dissolution, the court has the power to make orders to safeguard property that is at risk of being dissipated. Orders of this nature are not ordinarily or lightly made and the court will need to see very persuasive evidence that the order is needed to avoid prejudicing either party. If you think that property relevant to a matrimonial or civil partnership dispute is at risk, you need to act quickly and take immediate legal advice as to your options.

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