How to arrange (and protect) your finances using a divorce specialist

Originally published on 24th September 2020 at 4:00 PM
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When you get divorced, you need to decide how to separate your finances, such as any money, property, pensions or debt you may have. You agree to these arrangements in your ‘financial settlement’.

If you want to make this legally binding, you will need a divorce specialist to draft this into a financial consent order on your behalf. Once this is approved by a Judge, it becomes legally binding. Without this, your former partner could make a claim against your income, pension or other finances in the future.

amicable works with couples jointly to divorce without the need for solicitors. Our divorce specialists can support you, and your partner, in agreeing on a fair financial settlement, that can then be drafted into a consent order. We help couples to negotiate their agreement and take care of the whole process, ensuring that everything is properly drafted and submitted to the court.

We offer various services, some including negotiation sessions to help you agree on your financial settlement, or we offer a consent order drafting service if you have already reached an agreement that you both agree is ‘fair’.

About financial settlements after divorce

When a couple goes through a divorce, the financial side of the separation and legalising what has been agreed upon is sometimes called a divorce financial settlement. You will need to ensure these are legally binding so that each partner is secure from future claims on income.

You don’t need to use solicitors if you don’t want to. Instead, using a divorce specialist such as amicable, means you can arrange your finances together, and protect yourselves with a legally binding consent order.

The document that formalises your financial settlement is called a consent order (if you both agree), and more generally a financial order (if you don’t agree and you go through the court for a Judge to decide on any unresolved disputes for you).

What's important is not what it's called but what it actually does: when you divorce, a financial settlement outlines how the finances will work post-separation. If you’ve had your financial settlement written up into a consent order, and it’s been ‘sealed’ or ‘approved’ by a judge then it's a legally binding document. In this post, we answer all of your questions about financial settlements.

How can a divorce specialist help me settle my finances?

If you have agreed on how to settle your finances with your partner, and just need to legally certify them, then our consent order service is the right option for you. To be eligible for this service, you must both agree that your settlement is ‘fair’. If you have complex assets you may need a different service. For just £900 (payment plans available), our legal experts will draft your consent order and ensure it is a document that the court is likely to approve.

If you haven’t agreed on how to separate your finances, then our expert team is here to support you. We offer several services which include negotiation support so that you can work with your ex-partner to agree on a financial settlement which works for you both. Book a call with an amicable expert to understand which service would be best for you.

Need some more personalised advice?

What should you include in your divorce financial settlement?

In order to get your financial settlement signed off by a judge, you need to share a snapshot of your finances. This includes things like:

  • Assets and debts (including business assets)
  • Income
  • Investments, savings and shares
  • Pensions

You also need to outline what you have agreed with the finances post-separation. For example, what will happen with any property, if spousal or child maintenance will be paid and to whom, the value and of any lump-sum payments.

Why should you get a financial settlement?

Many people aren't aware that a divorce doesn't end your financial relationship with your ex. In England and Wales, you need to have a financial order (which usually contains a ‘clean-break clause’) approved by a judge.

Formalising your financial settlement when you divorce is crucial because any unresolved financial claim could arise further down the line, even if you are divorced.

Therefore, it's important that you and your ex-partner get your financial arrangements sorted with a legally binding consent order that outlines the financial settlement for your divorce that you both have agreed to.

Need some more personalised advice?

When should you agree on the finances?

It's recommended that financial divorce settlements are sorted at the same time as divorcing/ending your civil partnership. amicable's divorce specialists are often contacted by people who have already divorced but are yet to formalise their financial separation.

They are often unaware that in order to get a consent order through the courts, they will need to share a snapshot of their current financial situation , not what it was when they separated.

As you can imagine, sharing your finances with an ex years later can be uncomfortable, especially if one or both of you are with new partners.

In general, the two main factors that will have the biggest impact on whether you can come to a financial settlement in your divorce is how complicated your financial situation is and how well you can communicate and negotiate with your ex.

To avoid any financial issues, it's really important that you get the right advice and understand what options are available to you before you dive into sorting things out.

It's equally as important that you're both emotionally ready to talk about how the finances are going to split and manage your money moving forward and what this will mean for your future.

If one person feels rushed into the discussions, this can lead to them stalling which will prolong the process and make coming to an agreement difficult and is also the main reason divorce can become so expensive.

How are assets usually split in a divorce?

The starting point when you begin working out how things will be split is to divide everything 50/50. You can then start discussing what you'll both need post-split and what's fair. A family law judge will then review your agreement to ensure that it's fair. There are many considerations that a judge will take into account including:

  • How old you and your partner are
  • You earning ability
  • Money and property (family home)
  • Living expenses and the standard of living you both have
  • Assets and debts
  • Business assets
  • The role you held in the marriage

You can read more details on what a judge considers in this blog.

The main priority, however, is the agreements and arrangements for any children involved, such as child maintenance and housing.

Want some advice on splitting your assets?

How much does a financial settlement cost?

You can decide on your financial settlement yourselves, or with the help of a divorce specialist, such as amicable. You will then need to get this drafted into a consent order to go before a judge to be made legally binding. No court attendance is required.

Using amicable is often a lot more affordable than using solicitors and is more comprehensive than mediation as we can formalise your financial settlement in a consent order.

The cost for amicable writing up your agreement costs £950 per couple - this includes the government court fee. If negotiation support is required there are a few options based on amount of support you need.

If you're almost there and just need a couple of hours with one of our specialists then our Full Divorce Service is the right option for you, if you need more support then the Negotiation with Divorce Service or Negotiation Plus with Divorce Service (for couples with complex assets ) includes up to six coaching sessions as well as the intros you'll need to specialists e.g. for tax advice.

You should speak to us before signing up to these services so we can make sure we are the best approach for you and your family.

Financial settlements can go two ways

1. You both agree to a financial settlement and are amicable

In England and Wales, you can sort your agreement without involving mediators and lawyers if you don't have complex financial issues, have not been married for very long or simply get on well with your ex, despite getting a divorce.

To legalise your arrangements, you'll need to start divorce/dissolution proceedings and formalise your agreement by getting a consent order written up. A consent order outlines how all assets, including investments, savings, money and property (such as the family home), along with the spouse and child maintenance, are divided.

Use our free tool here to find out what service will work best for you.

2. You can’t agree and there are unresolved disputes

If you're not able to or it's not safe to sort out your finances amicably, you can seek support from a mediator and family lawyer.

If these routes don't work out, you can apply for a court order and ask a judge to agree on your behalf.

To qualify for a court order, there needs to be evidence that you both went to at least one mediation meeting. The only exception to this is when social divorce-diagnostic or domestic violence is involved. For legal advice on acrimonious splits, visit the Citizen's Advice Bureau or Resolution as a starting point.

Want to discuss splitting your finances?

Financial Settlement FAQs

Do you need to go to court to get a divorce settlement?

If you can agree on the details and have a fair agreement, you can apply for a consent order where a judge will review and if satisfied approve it. Court attendance won't be necessary.

In some divorces, a judge from the family law court may request more details of how the agreement was decided and ask if the details are understood if it appears to be unfair.

How long does it take to get a financial settlement?

For a divorce/dissolution only - it takes at least seven months to complete the process.

If you're sorting out your finances and legalising your arrangement through the courts at the same time and are amicable, the process takes at least seven-eight months but likely longer depending on several factors. If things are acrimonious and need to go through court, it can take a lot longer.

The things to consider when agreeing on a settlement about your finances will include:

  • Child maintenance payments
  • What will happen to the family home
  • How to separate your assets and debts
  • Both of your earning potential
  • How long you were married
  • And, ultimately, if the agreement is fair or not.

Is it best to sort the financial settlement before, during or after the divorce process?

You won't be able to apply to the court for your consent order until you've reached the conditional order (formerly called the decree nisi) part of your divorce/dissolution which means you need to start divorce proceedings first.

It's often best to arrange your financial consent order alongside the divorce/dissolution process.

For more information on financial settlements in divorce and dissolutions, book a free 15-minute call below.

Start your amicable divorce journey

Speak to an amicable Divorce Specialist to understand your options and next steps for untying the knot, amicably.

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