The Courts have a strong emphasis on encouraging the husband and wife to agree on the division of their finances between themselves. Going to Court can be an expensive and time-consuming process; therefore it is in the parties’ own interests to settle matters out of Court.
Although reaching a financial settlement out of Court can often be more cost-effective and timely, it still has several stages and will require expert advice.
First, the parties will exchange a document called a Form E; this document contains financial information about your capital assets, pensions, income and needs and is probably the single most important document in your divorce. If matters were being dealt with through Court, the Court would order that this document be exchanged in the early stages of proceedings. However, it is equally important when negotiating out of Court. This is because your lawyers cannot begin advising you on how your finances could be fairly divided until they know the full financial picture.
Once you have exchanged financial information and raised any queries you may have, your lawyers can begin negotiating on your behalf. Proposals for settlement will be put forward by one side, then the other spouse will make counter-proposals until the parties reach a settlement upon which they agree. Of course, there is a lot to consider and your lawyer will provide constant guidance.
If either party does decide to issue Court proceedings, they must file the Form A to commence these (see ‘Financial Orders’ tab for more information). In most cases, you must then attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). This is an opportunity to negotiate with your partner in the presence of a specialist mediator who will facilitate discussions and is another example of the Court’s encouragement of settlement.
It is possible to reach agreement at any stage up until the Final Hearing. Once the parties agree on how the finances are to be divided, your solicitor will then draw up a Consent Order. The Judge will look at this on paper and if he’s happy it receives the Court seal and is legally binding.
Call us if you would like further advice on financial settlements.