In order to separate your finances on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership it’s important to obtain a Final Financial Order from the Court. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to litigate. Most people are able to reach an agreement by themselves or with the help of a mediator.
Stage 1 – Understand the Financial Situation
The first step is for you both to understand the assets and income that you each have.Therefore, in order to obtain a Final Financial Order you each have a duty to provide each other and the Court with full financial disclosure. That means that you need to provide all relevant facts, documents and other information necessary to provide a full picture of your financial circumstances.
If your respective financial positions are very simple or you both already have a clear idea of each other’s financial position, you can agree to provide details of your finances on divorce in the form in a schedule. However, in most circumstances it will be best to use a Form E in the same way that you would as part of the Court process. This is because it provides a structure for the disclosure and sets out which documents should be attached as evidence.
Stage 2 – Options to Reach a Financial Settlement
Once you and your spouse / civil partner are satisfied that you both understand the assets and income you each have, you’ll be able to start negotiating a settlement (i.e. agreeing who receives what).
- Discuss and agree a settlement directly with your spouse / civil partner directly;
- Negotiate using a mediator;
- Use solicitors to negotiate a settlement through letters or round table meetings;
- Pay privately for an arbitrator to make a decision for you both;
- Litigate through the Courts and have a Judge make the decision for you;
- Use any combination of the methods referred to above.
Stage 3 – Finalise the Settlement
It’s possible to reach an agreement at any stage (including during the litigation process).
The agreement between you now needs to be converted into a draft Consent Order, which is the agreement in a format that the Court will recognise. In most circumstances it will be necessary to see a solicitor. However, you can ensure that you keep your fees to a minimum by providing him / her with all the necessary information in a clear concise format.