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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How do I get a Consent Order? A simple guide

How do I get a Consent Order?
Rosalind Russell in the 1949 movie ‘Tell it to the Judge’ – and that, in essence, is what a Consent Order is all about

  What’s a Consent Order?

You’ve agreed the matrimonial finances. The next step is to get a Consent Order so you know it’s done and dusted. Once it’s made, neither of you can:

  • go back on the agreement
  • come back for a second bite of the cherry.

  How do I get a Consent Order?

Contact an experienced family lawyer because your Consent Order needs to be technically accurate.

  When’s the best time to get a Consent Order?

As soon as you are in agreement. But did you know that a Consent Order cannot be made by the Court until your decree nisi has been pronounced?

  What do I send to the Court?

  What’s a ‘statement of information for Consent Order’?

This sets out your finances. It’s vital to complete it accurately. See my blog Financial Disclosure on Divorce – 10 Things You Need To Know for the dire consequences of being less than frank in financial disclosure.

  What will the Court do?

The Court’s duty is to make sure the Consent Order is fair, makes proper financial provision, and is technically correct. The Court will firstly consider the welfare of any children. It will then consider your –

  • income, earning capacity, property
  • financial needs
  • standard of living during marriage
  • ages and length of marriage 
  • disabilities
  • contributions made 
  • conduct if it would be inequitable to disregard it

If the Court isn’t convinced it’s fair, or if the order is technically incorrect, they will raise queries. These can mostly be dealt with by letter. Occasionally there can be a short Court hearing.

If you want to make sure you come to a fair agreement, read my blog Financial Settlement on Divorce, How To Get The Best One For You – 5 FAQs.

  How can a Consent Order be wrong?

If it’s unfair. For example if one of you ends up with valuable assets but the other doesn’t. But this can sometimes be fair if there are unusual circumstances such as a short marriage. See my blog Short Marriages – 10 Things You Need To Know

  How else can a Consent Order be wrong?

If there are technical errors. The Court can only make certain orders. These include:

  How to get a Consent Order right

The simplest answer is to ask an experienced family lawyer to draft it for you.

  What’s a recital/preamble?

The paragraphs above the words “By Consent it is Ordered“. What’s included?

  • Agreements that can’t be orders
  • Undertakings to the Court (an undertaking is a solemn promise to the Court)

For example to return the oil painting of your mother in law. Or to take turns looking after Rover, the beloved family pet. Or to pay the mortgage on the family home. This is relevant if the house will be yours but the mortgage is still in joint names because of financial constraints.

  But what happens if my ex ignores what’s in the recital/preamble?

You can make an application to the Court for enforcement.

  When does a Consent Order come into effect?

When it’s sealed by the Court, or when your decree absolute is obtained, whichever is later.

  How do I get a Consent Order?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question How do I get a Consent Order? 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 do I get a Consent Order? 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 credit for How do I get a Consent Order? Columbia’s ‘Tell it to the Judge’

 

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Quick Divorce or Safe Divorce? How To Protect Your Financial Settlement

Quick Divorce1. How Quick Is A Quick Divorce?

Need a quick divorce? It usually takes about four months to end a marriage if the divorce is uncontested and there are no mishaps with the paperwork along the way. This may not sound particularly quick, but did you know you risk missing out financially if it goes even this quickly?  (see question 3 below).

To avoid mishaps with the paperwork take a quick look at our recent blog here.

2. Why Can’t A Quick Divorce Be Quicker?

Because there’s a strict timetable for the Court paperwork.

Documents have to be completed by you, your other half, and the Court. You will need to supply the reasons for your divorce (our recent blog can help). And even when you’ve dealt with all the paperwork and you’ve got your Decree Nisi, you will have to wait six weeks and one day before applying for the Decree Absolute (which ends your marriage).

And did you know there are special rules for short marriages? Click here to read our recent blog on this subject.

3. Why Would Anyone Want To Delay Their Divorce?

Because you could miss out on a fair share of the matrimonial finances.

If your other half dies after the divorce but before you have a Court Order confirming the financial settlement, you could lose out because you won’t be their widow or widower. And you could miss out on a fair share of their pension.

4. When’s The Ideal Time To Finalise A Divorce?

When the Court has made an Order confirming your financial settlement.

This doesn’t mean you have to go to Court for a big fight about money. After all, you may be in agreement about everything, or maybe there are just one or two things outstanding. Whatever the case is, get a quote from a family solicitor to help you with a Consent Order.

5. What Is A Consent Order?

It sets your financial settlement in stone.

Once the Court has made the Order, your other half can’t change their mind. And if you come into money, your other half can’t claim it. You can now apply for your Decree Absolute knowing your interests are protected.

6. Quick Divorce Or Safe Divorce?

It’s up to you. But make sure you take expert legal advice if you have any doubts.

Contact  Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for free advice on divorce. In this 20 minute session we will discuss with you what’s been going wrong, and advise you of the most suitable wording for your divorce petition, and whether or not you require a Consent Order.

 


JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions. We offer collaborative law which is especially relevant in providing solutions tailored to your family’s needs. This includes same sex couples and their families. Visit our website just-family-law.com The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. Therefore if any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog have application to you, seek expert legal advice.

image: Thomas Wolf, www.foto-tw.de / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

 

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