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finances in divorce

Resolving financial matters with your spouse can be dealt with in a number of ways.

Whichever way you choose, the first step is always one of disclosure. This is where you and your spouse tell each other details of all your assets, income, debts and pensions etc. Documentary evidence in support is also required, so for example, you would provide salary advice slips, evidence of pension fund values, bank statements for each account etc. Valuation evidence may also be included, for example, if you have asked a local Estate Agent what their advice is on the value of your property. The process of disclosure enables both parties to know exactly the size and makeup of what is to be shared. A statutory checklist is then applied as to how the assets are divided.

The usual ways in which people resolve financial issues within their divorce are as follows:

  1. Discussion directly between yourselves

Where the separation is amicable, most couples can agree how and when the assets can be divided. This is the most straightforward way of dealing with matters and certainly the most cost effective. You should however never be in a position where you are put under any pressure, or duress, or enter into any agreement that you are not totally happy with. It always pays to get expert and independent advice, even if it is the background.

  1. Correspondence and negotiation between solicitors

Sometimes people do not feel able to have direct discussions and negotiations with their spouses. Once the process of disclosure has taken place, then there is no reason why negotiations and offers cannot be put to your spouse’s solicitor to reach an agreement. An experienced solicitor acting on your behalf, will quickly get to the issues and provide you with solid advice as to your entitlement and how assets could be or should be shared.

  1. Mediation

This is where you and your spouse attend what is effectively a roundtable meeting with a qualified Family Mediator. We can assist with your choice of Mediator as we deal with them on a regular basis. We can also be in the “background” to advise you on anything that is not totally clear as you progress through the process. There can be any number of meetings within the Mediation process, provided progress is being made. Once you and your spouse agree, then this is formally recorded by the Mediator. You should then convert this agreement into an order that the court will approve at the appropriate time within your divorce process.

Other things to note about Mediation:

  • The Mediator charges for their services independent from your solicitor
  • If you feel uncomfortable sitting around a table discussing matters with your spouse, then Mediation can take place with you sat in a separate room with the Mediator going in between.
  • Many clients take advice from their solicitor prior to attending Mediation sessions.
  • It is possible to attend Mediation with solicitors being present. Both parties would have to agree to this.
  1. Roundtable meetings

Often solicitors can take place in roundtable meetings with their clients in order to try and reach agreements, or at least narrow the issues.

  1. Arbitration

This is a relatively new concept compared to other forms of alternative dispute resolutions.

A qualified and independent Arbitrator is appointed. Both parties sign up to a formal process which is quicker and more cost effective than the court proceedings. A decision is made by the Arbitrator, which is final and binding upon you both. That decision is then converted into a financial order approved by the court.

The use of Arbitration is increasingly common given the strain on the court system in terms of delay and also cost.

  1. Court Proceedings

These can be started if there is no other way to resolve matters, or for example, if you have an uncooperative spouse who is refusing to voluntarily disclose their details, or they have an issue that the court needs to make a decision on.

The court process travels through three different stages/hearings namely:

Financial Directions Appointment (FDA)

  • Effectively this is a housekeeping appointment or case management hearing where orders are made that will move the case forward. Examples of orders that could be made at this stage would be valuations of assets or an order requiring a party to disclose more information or documentary evidence.

Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing (FDR)

  • This is a negotiation hearing with input from the Judge.
  • There is an obligation on both parties to set out their settlement proposals prior to the hearing which the Judge then comments upon.
  • Most cases settle at this stage.

Final Hearing

  • The parties give evidence and are cross-examined by the representative for your spouse.
  • The Judge then makes a Final Order having heard all of the evidence.

Wherever you are within the process, i.e., the beginning or you maybe part way through but encountering difficulties, then here at DTM we have a wealth of experience to support you to achieve the best outcome in a timely and cost-effective manner. The Team at DTM are experienced in dealing with all types of assets, whether it be offshore trusts, pensions, dealing with business valuations or even if you have one asset that you cannot agree how it should be dealt with. Here at DTM we have access to, and use regularly, other experts, for example Barristers, Valuers and Accountants, and if your case needs such input, this can be arranged.

For advice on finances in divorce please contact Lesley Smythe at lesley.smythe@dtmlegal.com or call her on 01244  354813 

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