Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know

considering divorce

Considering divorce? Here are some quick pointers to set you off in the right direction.

1. Everyone will have an opinion

Yes, that’s your family and friends, your neighbours and your colleagues at work. Even your Facebook friends. This can be distracting if you’re trying to figure out what to do. Struggling to see the wood for the trees? Time to get advice from an experienced family lawyer.

2. Try not to make a drama out of the divorce petition

A divorce petition can simply be a means to an end. You want to get divorced? – filling out the paperwork is how to go about it. Only you, your ex and the Court are ever likely to see the divorce petition, so try if you can not to fall out about it. If possible, agree which one of you is going to issue it and agree what it’s going to say. See my blog, Grounds for Divorce, 5 Things you Need to Know.

There are so many other more important things to focus on right now.

However if there’s been domestic abuse, or you believe the children are at risk, please seek immediate advice from an experienced family lawyer.

3. Address the finances

You can’t just leave things hanging, not indefinitely, because you will both be moving on. Important decisions need to be made about the assets – who gets what – and about child maintenance. See my blogs How do you Split Assets in a Divorce and What are your Child Maintenance Options? 

The divorce and the finances can run in parallel, see my blog What Comes First, Divorce or SettlementIf you can agree it all between you, that’s great. But please get legal advice on your rights – a one off appointment won’t cost much. After all, this is the rest of your life.

You both need closure and certainty when it comes to the finances. This means a Court order. But this doesn’t mean you have to attend at the Court, or that it will cost you a fortune – it can be a simple process. See my blog How to get a Consent Order? A Simple Guide.

4. The lawyers don’t have to win

Try to talk to your ex even if it’s really hard. If you fall out you may have to put everything into the lawyers’ hands. Worst case scenario, it all ends up in Court. This could cost you a great deal. Try these alternative approaches:

5. Pension or family home?

If you’re thinking you want to stay in the family home, come what may, take a moment to think. A share of your ex’s pension might be more valuable to you, long term. In many years time when you retire, you might discover that your ex is sitting pretty with a huge pension. Whereas you’re scrabbling around with a tiny pension and a big house that needs lots of maintenance.

This might be an opportunity to plan for the future. Perhaps you can downsize, release some capital for your ex, and get a share of their pension in return? This may take a little extra effort but might be worth it in the long term. Speak to an experienced family lawyer.

6. Ring fencing assets, your inheritance, pension, business …

Can you ring fence your assets? It depends. See my blogs Ring Fence and Protect Assets on Divorce and How to Protect Inheritance on DivorceDo you have to throw your business into the melting pot? See my blog, How to Protect Business on Divorce.

Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know A rayas by Juanedc on Wikimedia.

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Ten Top Tips for Divorce: What Should You Do First?

Ten Top Tips for Divorce

The holidays can sound the death knell for a relationship. But what should you do first? Here are Ten Top Tips for Divorce.

1. Consult

Arrange an initial consultation with an experienced family law solicitor. This can be low cost or even no cost, and can set you off in the right direction.

2. Talk

Try to talk to each other about arrangements for the children and finances. Talking, however painful it might be, could help you reach a less stressful, quicker, less expensive solution.

3. Avoid Court

Try to avoid Court proceedings about the children and finances. See my blog How to avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law and Arbitration.

4. Ground rules

If you’re still under the same roof and able to communicate, try to agree some ground rules:

  • sleeping and eating arrangements
  • payment of bills, the mortgage
  • care of children
  • how soon can one of you move out? This will lessen the strain for each of you and for the children

5. Can’t talk?

Under the same roof but you can’t communicate? Probably a good time to consult a family solicitor.

6. Domestic abuse

Has there been violence or any other form of domestic abuse? Take legal advice ASAP.

7. What comes first, divorce or finances

I’ve written a blog answering this question: What Comes First, Divorce or Settlement.

8. Start divorce proceedings

This makes a mark in the sand for those who are finding it difficult to accept the relationship is over. It can also kick off discussions about finances. But in order to keep matters as amicable as possible try to agree who is going to start the divorce. Even better, agree what the reasons for divorce are. See my blog Grounds for Divorce – 5 things you need to know. 

9. Financial disclosure

Disclose your financial information, there’s really no way around this. See my blog, Financial Disclosure on Divorce – 10 Things you need to know.

10. Alternatives

Can’t agree about the children or the finances? Sometimes Court Proceedings are the only answer. But please make sure you’ve tried one of these alternative approaches first:

Ten Top Tips for Divorce

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Ten Top Tips for Divorce. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Ten Top Tips for Divorce are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Ten Top Tips for Divorce Unhappy Couple by Skedonk on Wikimedia

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What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – part 3

after Financial Disclosure in Divorce

This week I’m explaining the difference between a First Appointment and a FDR Appointment after Financial Disclosure in Divorce. Why is this important? Because if you understand the difference you can “speed up” the Court timetable and reach an early conclusion. I’ll explain it as clearly as possible but if you’re at all unsure what to do, please get advice from an expert family lawyer.

The Court timetable

Here’s a reminder of the Court timetable. In last week’s blog – What happens after financial disclosure in divorce – part 2 – I dealt with the first three documents but not the fourth.

“Not less than 14 days before the First Appointment you must file with the Court and serve on each other:

  1. concise statement of the issues
  2. chronology
  3. questionnaire setting out any further information and documents requested
  4. notice stating whether you will be in a position at the First Appointment to proceed to a FDR Appointment”

So what is document number 4 all about?

Notice stating whether you will be in a position at the First Appointment to proceed on that occasion to a FDR Appointment

Once you understand what this Notice is getting at, it’s really easy to complete. But first you need to know what’s likely to happen at the First Appointment. And you need to understand the importance of the FDR Appointment (“FDR” stands for Financial Dispute Resolution).

First Appointment

What’s the First Appointment all about? I’ll give you some pointers. But it’s important to remember that if your case involves valuable property, a business or pensions, and/or your ex is uncooperative, it’s a good idea to get advice from an expert family lawyer.

Before the hearing

  1. You’ll have exchanged your documents with your ex and both of you will have filed them in the Court.
  2. Don’t forget to fill in Form H with details of your costs.

At the hearing

  1. Hand you Form H to your ex and to the Court.
  2. Ask the Court to order expert evidence, often vital for pensions and businesses. Also helpful if eg
    • you can’t agree the valuation of the family home
    • your ex is saying they can’t earn an income because of poor health and you don’t agree
  3. You will also ask the Court to order your ex to answer the questions you have raised in your questionnaire.

Matrimonial finances in the “fast lane”

But it’s possible to ask the Court for a FDR Appointment instead of a First Appointment. How? You fill in the “Notice stating whether you will be in a position at the First Appointment to proceed to a FDR Appointment” sent to you by the Court. This means you will “leapfrog” to the next hearing and so speed up the Court process.

What’s the FDR Appointment

At the FDR the Court will:

  • encourage you to come to an agreement and
  • the Court will give you an indication of what it thinks a fair outcome would be.

This can be a real wake up call for some.

When to bypass the First Appointment and aim straight for the FDR

  1. You’re happy with your ex’s financial disclosure, and you
  2. Don’t need expert evidence, but
  3. Can’t agree a financial settlement.

What happens if you can’t agree a settlement at the FDR

This is the subject of my next blog.

What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – Part 3

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – part 3. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – Part 3 are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – Part 3 Mavericks by Shalom Jacobovitz Wikimedia Commons This image has been digitally manipulated

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What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – part 2

Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce

In last week’s blog What happens after financial disclosure in divorce – part 1 I looked at what you should do when you receive your ex’s From E. This week’s blog is all about the Court timetable. I’ll explain it as clearly as possible but if you’re at all unsure what to do, please make sure you get advice from an expert family lawyer.

And if you’re involved in a voluntary process such as:

please see my blog How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law and Arbitration. 

The Court timetable

Not less than 14 days before the First Appointment you must file with the Court and serve on each other:

  • concise statement of the issues
  • chronology
  • questionnaire setting out any further information and documents requested
  • notice stating whether you will be in a position at the First Appointment to proceed to a FDR appointment

What Court documents look like

The heading is vital:

  • Top right hand corner: “In the Family Court at [name of your Court]”
  • Against the right hand margin” “No of matter [look at the last document you received from the Court]”
  • “Between” followed by “[name] Applicant”
  • “And” followed by “[name] Respondent”
  • Centred heading, “Concise Statement of Issues”, “Chronology” etc

Concise statement of issues

Putting this document together is a two step process:

  1. Identify what the issues are
  2. Concisely state them in a document

What are the issues

Anything that’s not yet agreed between you:

  • value of property and/or the future ownership of the family home or any other property
  • extent of savings and investments and/or the distribution of pensions or assets
  • level of income and/or maintenance
  • responsibility for debts

These are of course examples of issues. Every case is different.

How to set out your issues

Order your issues under headings, for example “Property”, and try to follow the sequence of the Form E when setting out your issues:

  • property
  • savings, investments
  • debts
  • businesses
  • pensions
  • income
  • income needs
  • capital needs

How much detail

The minimum. Simply state the issue; eg the value of the family home is not agreed or the Respondent has failed to disclose their income. Think of a Concise Statement of Issues as a heads-up to your ex and to the Court.

Chronology

What’s happened in date order. It’s usually going to go something like this:

[date] Civil partner’s/wife’s/husband’s date of birth

[date] Civil partner’s/wife’s/husband’s date of birth

[date] Marriage/civil partnership

[date] birth of [child name]

[date] separation

[date] divorce petition

[date] First Appointment

Questionnaire

Last week I said it was vital to go through your ex’s Form E carefully and note anything unexpected, incomplete or missing. List these items in your Questionnaire by reference to the paragraph numbers on the Form E. For example your ex has:

2.2 missed off the villa in Monaco you’re pretty sure they own jointly with their new partner

2.11 not attached copies of business accounts for the last two financial years

3.1.1 stated they need £300 a month to maintain their swimming pool. What swimming pool?

Notice stating whether you will be in a position at the First Appointment to proceed on that occasion to a FDR appointment

Once you understand what this Notice is getting at, it’s really easy to answer. But first you need to know what’s likely to happen at the First Appointment, and what a FDR appointment is all about. I’ll cover these in next week’s blog.

What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – Part 2

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – part 2. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – Part 2 are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce – Part 2 Cat by Kat Goretti on Wikimedia

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What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce

What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce

It’s easy to lose sight of what happens after financial disclosure in divorce. This is because getting your Form E together can be more than a bit complicated and longwinded.

Stuck on your Form E

If you’re stuck, please see my recent blogs: How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce – Part 1 which tells you what documents you need, and How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce – Part 2 which helps you answer some of the trickier questions. Still puzzled? Get in touch with an expert family lawyer.

But when it’s finished, what happens next? It depends whether you’re disclosing your finances voluntarily or as part of the Court timetable.

What is voluntary disclosure

Voluntary disclosure happens in:

What are these voluntary processes all about? See my blog How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law and Mediation

Exchange of Forms E

Whether it’s voluntary, or as part of the Court timetable, Forms E are exchanged simultaneously. This means your ex doesn’t get yours first and tailor theirs accordingly.

The first thing you need to do when you receive your ex’s Form E is to check it carefully. Does it contain any surprises? What’s this, a spare yacht moored in Capri which they’re happy to let you have? And all that money you thought they were spending in the bookies they were saving up for the children? Mm, we can all dream …

Check whether there’s anything they’ve left out – their business bank account, their shares, their pension. And have they included all the documents required by Form E?

Questions, questions …

If something doesn’t make sense – where did they get the money to pay for yet another yacht – any chance they’re earning a lot more than they’re letting on? And where are the statements backing up their bank accounts? This is your opportunity to raise questions. If it’s a voluntary process, this can be by letter. If you’re involved in Court proceedings, you need to keep to the Court timetable.

The Court timetable

The Court issued the timetable when proceedings started. You now have a date for the first hearing which is called, perhaps a little predictably, the “First Appointment”. You’ve already complied with item 1 of the timetable – well done!

  1. Not less than 35 days before the first appointment you must simultaneously exchange your Forms E. Don’t forget to file your Form E in the Court, too
  2. Not less than 14 days before the first appointment, you must file with the Court and serve on each other:
    • a concise statement of the issues
    • a chronology
    • a questionnaire setting out any further information and documents requested
    • a notice stating whether you will be in a position at the first appointment to proceed on that occasion to a FDR appointment

Concise statement of issues? Chronology? Questionnaire? Notice?

This is all a lot simpler than it sounds but it does take some care, so please read my next blog which will guide you through in easy steps, What happens after financial disclosure on divorce – part 2.

What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post What Happens after Financial Disclosure in Divorce are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

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Can I Refuse Financial Disclosure

Can I Refuse Financial DisclosureI understand why sometimes clients ask, “Can I refuse financial disclosure.” Your relationship has broken down and now your ex, or your ex’s solicitors, are asking intrusive questions. You object because:

  • you’ve already reached a perfectly sensible agreement between you, or
  • you want your business, inheritance or pension left out of the settlement.

There’s a lot at stake so make sure you get expert legal advice

Why is financial disclosure requested

You’ll only know you’re getting a fair share of the matrimonial income and assets if you understand their extent. Your ex’s solicitor will be advising your ex the same. However this doesn’t mean your ex automatically gets a share of everything. When you disclose you can argue an asset is non matrimonial, for example:

  • an inheritance postdating the relationship breakdown, or
  • a pension you built up before the marriage.

See my blog Ring fence and protect assets on divorce

Further, if your business is small and represents your income, it’s unlikely it’ll be thrown into the mix. See my blog How to protect business on divorce.

What if you’ve already agreed a financial settlement

Did you know that the Court won’t make an order without seeing a Statement of Information for Consent Order. This is a Court form containing basic financial information about both of you.

What is a “Statement of Information for Consent Order” and why is it necessary

This document contains the following information from both of you:

  • details of marriage/civil partnership
  • dates of birth
  • financial agreement
  • summary of means
  • capital
  • income

The Court checks this document to make sure your financial agreement is fair and reasonable.

What if you provide inaccurate disclosure or hide assets?

See my blog Financial Disclosure on Divorce – 10 Things You Need to Know. This tells you about:

  • costs consequences, and
  • adverse inferences, and
  • the worst case scenario, being found to be “in contempt of Court”, and
  • the ultimate sanction, imprisonment.

Why do you need a consent order?

For more about consent orders and how to get one see my blog How do I get a consent order

Can I refuse financial disclosure

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Can I Refuse Financial Disclosure. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Can I Refuse Financial Disclosure are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Can I Refuse Financial Disclosure Runner in Chicago by Kyle Cassidy on WikimediaThis image has been changed.

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How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce – pt 2

How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on DivorceLast week’s blog Form E Financial Statement on Divorce – pt 1 set out the documents you need to gather together. This week I’m guiding you through the Form E Financial Statement, explaining the tricky bits and pitfalls. However there’s no substitute for taking advice from a family law expert.

You need to answer the questions thoroughly and honestly. Why? See my blog  Financial disclosure on divorce, 10 things you need to know.

1.13 Child support

If you’re not sure about your position see my blog What are your child maintenance options? Here’s a link to the online child maintenance calculator

2.10 Capital Gains Tax

Here’s a link to an overview of Capital Gains Tax. If you have any doubts about your tax liability you should consult your accountant. Also please see our blog Does Splitting up Affect Tax in the UK.

2.11 Details of all your business interests

Providing information about your business doesn’t mean it’s automatically up for grabs in the divorce. See my blog How to Protect Business on Divorce

2.14 Other assets

“You are reminded of your obligation to disclose all your financial assets and interest of ANY nature.” If you wonder why this warning is necessary take a look at my blog Financial Disclosure on Divorce – 10 Things You Need to Know

3. Financial Requirements Part 1 Income needs

Print off the checklist from the Advice Now website, fill it in and attach it to the form.

3. Financial Requirements Part 2 Capital needs

Often for accommodation. Consider your reasonable housing needs and do some market research. Also note your potential mortgage capacity and show your net capital requirement.

4.2 Brief details of the standard of living enjoyed by you and your spouse/civil partner during the marriage/civil partnership

This is only likely to have consequences in very high value divorces where there’s a significant excess of resources. See my blog A Guide to “Needs” on Divorce – Christina Estrada’s Extraordinary Essentials. In this case the Judge described the couple’s standard of living as “stratospheric”. The starting point for the division of capital is equal shares. But division can be unequal:

  • where needs cannot be met, or
  • in high value divorces where there’s been a “stellar” contribution by one party.

Stellar contribution, otherwise known as special contribution, is considered in my blog Special Contribution on Divorce: How to Get a Bigger Share of the Assets.

If you married an established millionaire there’s a chance you won’t get an equal share of their fortune on divorce. However if you give full details of your lavish lifestyle this might justify a share not simply based on your needs.

4.4 Bad behaviour or conduct

This goes way beyond unreasonable behaviour and adultery.  An argument for a bigger share on this basis is unlikely to succeed unless for example it’s a question of:

  • “wanton” or “reckless” expenditure, or
  • your ex destroying your ability to earn an income by injuring you or burning down your business.

4.5 Other circumstances

It’s important to give careful thought to answering this question. It could justify a greater share of the capital or a maintenance order.

5. Order sought

Take advice from a family law expert to find out what you can hope to achieve in a financial settlement.

Statement of Truth

Wondering why the contempt of court warning is necessary? Take a look at my blog Financial Disclosure on Divorce – 10 Things You Need to Know

How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce – pt 2

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce, Vic, Iceland, by Unsplash on Wikimedia

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How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce – Pt 1

How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on DivorceThis blog is about how to fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce. If you’re not sure whether you should fill in a Form E, or you’re not sure what to disclose, make sure you obtain legal advice from an expert family lawyer

What Form E is all about

See my blog Financial disclosure on divorce, 10 things you need to know

Don’t fall at the first hurdle

What could be worse than finally sitting down to fill in your Form E and you fall at the first hurdle because you haven’t got the right documents. This week I’ll tell you what documents you need so you can start collecting them together.

Why these documents are necessary

They are required by the Form E. If you don’t include them you will be chased by the other side or ultimately ordered by the Court. So you might as well get on with it now.

Properties

  • If you own or part own any properties – family home, holiday home, investment property – a valuation for each in the last six months is helpful. The more recent the better otherwise you’re going to have to rely on a guess and if you’re way off, this could cause unnecessary delay and expense in your case
  • A recent mortgage statement for each property
  • Click this link to the Land Registry for an online title summary providing basic information about the property. For more detail, order documents by following this link Land Registry.

Bank, building society and savings accounts

Whether in your sole name or jointly with others – 12 months of statements for each.

Any other investments; eg shares, ISAs

Last statement for each investment.

Life assurance policies/endowment policies

Recent statement to show surrender value.

Running a business

  • Last two years’ accounts and
  • evidence that supports your valuation of your business; eg a letter from your accountant

Pensions

Write to your pension provider and ask for the cash equivalent transfer value.

Employed

  • Your last P60 together with
  • wages slips for the last three months

Self employed

  • Last two tax assessments but if these aren’t available, a letter from your accountant
  • If the estimate for your net income for the next twelve months is significantly different from your net income from your last set of accounts, you’ll need to provide a set of your management accounts for the current period to explain the difference

Next blog

Got all your documents together? My next blog will guide you through how to fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce.

How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for How to Fill in a Form E Financial Statement on Divorce, Confused Young Woman by CollegeDegrees360 on Wikimedia

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Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered

Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered

1. Can I do the divorce/end our civil partnership myself

Yes, here’s a guide to how to file for divorce in the UKIt also tells you about the challenges you might faceIf in doubt, consult an expert family lawyer.

2. How much will it cost

The Court fee is £550 but:

  • are you eligible for an exemption? Here’s a link to an application form, or
  • will your ex pay? You can ask the Court to make an order although it’s not guaranteed the Court will agree so try to reach agreement with your ex.

3. How long will it take

About four months ruling out mishaps with the paperwork. But it’s wise to delay completing your divorce until you have a financial order. Why? Because you might miss out on your fair share; eg if your ex dies after the divorce but before you have a financial order you could lose out on their pension. Not sure? Consult an expert family solicitor.

4. How are the finances split 

Equally – subject to the following factors:

  • welfare of children
  • income and earning capacity –  a “clean break” means a payment of capital instead of ongoing maintenance
  • financial needs – eg the care of children
  • standard of living during the marriage – in rare cases where there is an excess of capital and income this is an argument for a greater share
  • your ages, and the length of the marriage – different considerations apply if it’s a short marriage
  • disabilities – ongoing maintenance or extra capital may be the answer
  • contributions to marriage – high achievers can attempt to ring fence their “stellar contribution

Try to agree the finances with your ex – see my recent blog How to avoid Court for your options:

5. Do I have to disclose my finances

Yes. Hiding assets or income drags things out and can result in an expensive and never ending court case. You will disclose your assets and income in a Form E Financial Statement, and/or a Statement of Information for Consent Order (if your agreed settlement is protected in a consent order)

If you don’t make full disclosure you risk:

  • adverse inferences being drawn as to the extent of your assets
  • extra costs
  • imprisonment for contempt of Court

Think you’ve got away with it? The Court can overturn financial orders when non disclosure or fraudulent disclosure comes to light. Transferring assets to someone else? You risk a Court order freezing your assets and a hefty costs order. Hiding assets? You risk imprisonment for contempt of Court.

6. Can I ring fence my assets 

Yes, sometimes, but you must still give full and frank disclosure first. What’s the best way to ring fence and protect assets on divorce? A prenuptial agreement.

If you’re already married, a post nuptial agreement. 

7. What’s a non matrimonial asset

Take advice because it depends on all the circumstances:

  • the house you owned before the marriage
  • the pension you paid since you started work
  • the inheritance that post dated separation
  • your business

But if there aren’t enough matrimonial assets left to fulfil your ex’s needs eg for housing, non matrimonial assets can be used to plug the gap.

8. Is it possible to ring fence and protect an earlier inheritance

Possibly if you never allowed it to be used as a matrimonial asset.

9. Can a business be ring fenced

Your ex might make a claim over your business but won’t automatically be entitled to a share of the business on divorce, and if they are, they could instead receive a larger share of other assets such as savings or the family home. Take advice, this is a tricky one.

Joint business? The options are:

  • split it between you
  • buy each other out
  • sell it

Here again a you might want to consider a post nuptial agreement.

10. My husband/wife/civil partner has left me what are my rights

Worried your ex will:

  • sell your home because it’s not in joint names
  • sell, hide or move valuable assets

The answers are:

  • an application to the Land Registry to register a Notice of Home Rights – anyone who is not a joint owner should register their home rights when a marriage breaks down
  • an urgent application to the Court to freeze assets

You need maintenance:

  • on an emergency basis
  • to support the children

The answers are:

Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Your Top 10 Divorce Questions Answered – Facial portrait of sad expression by a female actress by xusenru on Wikimedia

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Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage

Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage

Did you know? – the length of time you live together before marriage can affect the share you receive of matrimonial assets if you divorce …

Larry the cat

Larry the cat lives at 10 Downing Street. If he’s anything like my cat he’s always changing his mind. You let him in and straightaway he wants to go out again. He’s out, and next thing you know, he’s yowling at the door. It’s possible some humans are like this too. Forever changing their mind, chopping and changing, difficult to pin down.

Chopping and changing

But chopping and changing can lead to consequences if you’re a human being. Let’s pretend you’ve been married twice – in fact you’re still married to your second wife –  and you’re living at – um, well – let’s say an address in the centre of London not a million miles from Larry the cat. Some commentators are now referring to your cohabitee as the “First Girlfriend”.

Tot up the years

Perhaps you’re pondering marriage to the First Girlfriend once you’re divorced from your second wife. Heaven forbid this third marriage won’t last but say if it doesn’t? And say if it doesn’t last very long at all? How do you protect yourself against a claim that, taken together with the previous cohabitation, it wasn’t a short marriage? Perhaps it’s time to take advice from an expert family lawyer.

Why length of marriage is important

The starting point for the division of matrimonial assets is equal division (see my blog on Financial settlements). But this doesn’t always apply to short marriages. Take a look at my blog Short marriages – 10 things you need to know. So if you’re only married for a short period of time you might not want any prior period of cohabitation to count.

When does living together count towards length of marriage

The Court has set down that the time you live together is counted if you move “seamlessly” from living together to marriage. The Judge in the case of GW v RW said, “… where a relationship moves seamlessly from cohabitation to marriage without any major alteration in the way the couple live, it is unreal and artificial to treat the periods differently.”

What does move “seamlessly” mean

  • When you lived together – was it the same as being married but without the ceremony? And did you simply then get married and it made no difference?
  • Or alternatively were you just trying each other out, seeing if there was any possibility of a marriage some time in the future?

In the latter case, well, it’s just not the same as being married is it.

Are you cohabiting

Dates of cohabitation are frequently disputed. So perhaps you need it agreed and written down somewhere.

What’s the answer

When you move in together you could have a Cohabitation Agreement recording the date you started living together. See my blog about Cohabitation AgreementsWhen you decide to get married you can have a Prenuptial Agreement stating them same. A prenup can be vital in many circumstances – see my blog 10 reasons you need a prenuptial agreement when life is rosy 

Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on the question Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Divorce settlement after living together pre marriage Larry the Cat outside 10 Downing St by Parrot of Doom on Wikimedia Commons

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