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We understand that going through a divorce can be an emotional and difficult time. Our expert family law solicitors can help you through this process and give you expert legal advice, to ensure you get the best outcome for yourself and your family.
When a court considers how to distribute assets, the most important and paramount consideration is the welfare of any child of the family under the age of 18. There are statutory guidelines in place to ensure that court orders are fair and reasonable, and that appropriate consideration is given as to whether the economically weaker spouse can become financially independent from the other spouse.
We act for:
We act with integrity. We do not fee build at the client's expense. We provide experienced and commercial advice to ensure the client achieves the right outcome.
We understand the stress caused when relationships break down. We work hard building close relationships with the best forensic accountants, tax specialists, pension actuaries and independent financial advisers to assist the client to get the right information and help them rebuild their family's future.
The court will consider several factors including:
A spouse will not be penalised for remaining in the home and looking after the children whilst the other spouse goes out to work. The court will treat a spouse's contribution to the family and home life as equal, albeit that one spouse's contribution was an economic and the other a homemaking contribution.
Sometimes it is not practical for the parties to achieve financial independence immediately, and in those cases it may be appropriate for there to be a maintenance order in favour of one spouse. Even a short marriage may create financial dependence, for example, if there are dependent children of the family.
Each party has a duty to provide full and comprehensive disclosure of his or her financial position with documentary evidence in support.
The duty to provide full disclosure is the same, regardless of whether you are negotiating directly with your spouse without having issued court proceedings, within the mediation process or other alternative dispute resolution process, or within court proceedings.
We are unable to advise on financial matters without comprehensive financial information and documentation being provided to us.
This will usually include:
Many cases will settle after an exchange of both spouses' financial information and negotiations via solicitors. We pride ourselves on providing swift, comprehensive advice to assist our clients in reaching an out of court settlement. We issue court proceedings only when it is in the interests of the client to do so.
Either party to a marriage can issue court proceedings to resolve financial issues following a relationship breakdown provided that:
Our guide below shows the steps you need to take when issuing financial remedy proceedings.
The Applicant must issue proceedings at court by filing Form A and paying a court fee of £255.00.
Upon receipt of Form A, the court will assign a timetable for the case. This will allow time for both parties to file documentation by certain dates and a First Directions Appointment (FDA) hearing is fixed to decide preliminary issues.
The court will serve the parties with the court timetable (in Form C) and a copy of Form A.
Around 5 weeks before the First Directions Appointment hearing, both parties must file at court and upon each other a Financial Statement in Form E, setting out their respective financial positions with supporting documentation.
14 days before the First Directions Appointment, both parties must file at court and upon each other a Statement of Issues, Chronology, Questionnaire and Form G which will outline the issues in dispute. The mortgagee and pension provider(s) must also be served with a copy of Form A.
At this stage, both parties must attend court with their legal representatives. It is likely that an order for directions will be obtained, which will deal with the timing of the filing of further documentation, expert evidence and any joint valuations.
A hearing date will also be fixed for the Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) Hearing. Between the First Directions Appointment and the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing, the parties will comply with filing documents in accordance with the order for directions obtained at the First Directions Appointment.
At least 2 days (or such other date as may be specified) before the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing, the Applicant must file a bundle at court with all of the up to date documentation. If without prejudice offers have been made, these will also form part of the court bundle.
Both parties are usually expected to file a Schedule of Assets, a Statement of Issues and a costs schedule in Form H, before the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing. In addition, both parties will usually file updated financial disclosure, housing particulars and evidence of the mortgage capacity in advance of the hearing.
The parties and their legal representatives attend the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing with a view to trying to achieve a settlement. If a settlement is reached at the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing, the Applicant’s representative will draft a consent application for approval.
If a settlement is not reached, all without prejudice correspondence will be removed from the court file and the matter will be listed for a Final Hearing. The District Judge who listened to evidence at the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing will not be able to sit as a District Judge at the Final Hearing.
14 days before the date set for the Final Hearing, the Applicant must file copies of all open proposals at court and file a court bundle with a cost estimate.
Both parties will need to file lengthy statements setting out their position. In addition, both parties will usually file updated financial disclosure, housing particulars and evidence of the mortgage capacity in advance of the hearing.
Both parties must attend the Final hearing with their legal representatives. After listening to evidence from both parties, the District Judge will give his final judgement.
The court has wide-ranging powers to order:
The court will adopt a different approach to "matrimonial" assets and "non-matrimonial" assets. Matrimonial assets mean assets built up by the parties during the marriage, such as the family home. Matrimonial assets are generally divided equally.
"Non-matrimonial" assets are assets built up prior to or following the breakdown of the marriage, or assets acquired through an independent source. These could include:
Generally, these assets are not shared between the parties, save to meet needs. The court has a wide discretion to assess needs and each case is dealt with accordingly to its own specific facts.
Assets inherited by one party to the marriage are generally regarded as “non-matrimonial” property and are usually excluded and not available to be shared between the parties.
Where the needs of the parties can be met by using matrimonial assets, non-matrimonial wealth may be disregarded.
However, if the needs of the parties cannot be met from matrimonial assets, then the court has a wide discretion to take into account the availability of non-matrimonial assets, such as inherited property.
A business may need to be valued by a joint forensic expert as part of the financial negotiations on divorce. An expert may be requested to value:
The court has a range of options in dealing with business assets on divorce. It can order:
At Myerson, we advise business owners or their spouses on how best to achieve the right commercial solution in an attempt to preserve the business and safeguard its income stream.
We have significant experience in working for:
We work closely with our private client, commercial property and corporate teams to make sure our clients receive a bespoke commercial service to protect their interests.
Myerson is ranked in the Legal 500 Directory as a Top Tier law firm in relation to its advice on agricultural estate issues. Our Family Team regularly advise clients on the complexities involved in farming divorces including:
Dealing with a farm on divorce can be complicated, often due to the fact that it may have been in the same family for generations.
On divorce, the courts are able to transfer or sell land, distribute business assets or transfer shares between the couple involved.
Pension assets are capable of being shared on divorce.
If the pension assets are of high value or there are a combination of different types of pension schemes, it is advisable to seek advice from a pension actuary to advise on:
For more information about pension sharing on divorce, please refer to A Guide to the Treatment of Pensions on Divorce prepared from The Report of the Pension Advisory Group.
Assets or income derived from a Trust are regarded as “non-matrimonial” property and therefore not available to be shared on divorce. However, if the matrimonial assets are not sufficient to meet the reasonable needs of both parties, then the Family Court has a wide discretion to analyse the assets and income from the Trust and regard it as a financial resource of the beneficiary
The court has wide-ranging powers to:
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Jane is a Partner and Head of the Family Law Team
Nichola is a Senior Associate in our Family Law department
Sarah is a Senior Associate in our Family Law department
Helen is a Trainee Solicitor in our Family department.
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