Here at Higgins Miller we specialise in the field of family law, which means we work with our clients as they deal with some of the biggest upheavals life can throw at them. These can include working through adoption, dealing with a will and probate or liaising with social services. In many cases we deal with the end of a relationship, be it a marriage, a civil partnership or cohabitation. The most complex and contentious aspect of many such cases revolves around dividing the financial assets of both partners, and in many cases a financial settlement before divorce helps to keep things running more smoothly.
The end of any relationship is bound to be a highly emotional time, and emotions such as anger and resentment can all too easily come to dominate the discussions between the parties and make it all but impossible to reach an amicable agreement. When working on a financial settlement before divorce we always try to remove the anger and emotion from the situation as much as possible, and work to create an agreement that both parties are happy to sign up to. It has to be remembered that the implications of any financial settlement before divorce could impact on the life and well-being of both parties for many year to come. One point which has to be borne in mind is that, in English law, the granting of a divorce doesn’t bring a complete end to the financial relationship between a couple. If a financial settlement before divorce hasn’t been agreed, then a change in circumstances could see one partner choosing to make a claim against another, whereas if a financial settlement before divorce has been reached and turned into a Court Order, then this won’t be possible. Given the permanence of such a settlement, it’s vital that it is negotiated and agreed with the help of highly trained legal experts such as those at Higgins Miller.
In some cases a financial settlement of this kind will be entered into before a separation agreement rather than a divorce. A separation agreement is something which a couple could enter into if they are cohabiting rather than being married, or if they haven’t yet made the decision to divorce or dissolve a civil partnership. The issues which need to be covered by a financial settlement before divorce or separation could include the following:
- The payment of rent and other household bills
- The issue of the family home, who will live in it and what will happen if it’s sold
- Dealing with outstanding debts
- Dealing with savings, investments and other financial assets
- Dividing items such as cars or furniture, particularly if they had been purchased jointly
- The issue of maintenance to be paid for any children or a partner
The division of assets and liabilities and how they should be divided can often cause much more conflict and bitterness than issues such as childcare, as it can be assumed that both parties will strive to put the welfare of any children first. When it comes to finances, however, the framing of a divorce or separation as being a situation with ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ can make it difficult to discuss the issues calmly and reach a jointly beneficial agreement. The experts at Higgins Miller are equipped to take the heat from the situation and discuss things calmly, at the same time as providing legal advice which will ensure that any agreement stands the test of time.
In many cases, the financial settlement before divorce will simply be the first stage in the longer process of ending a relationship. It could be that the couple are simply ‘testing the water’ and finding out what a divorce would involve in practical terms, or that they are still not 100% certain they want to end the relationship, but still want to put the foundation for a successful process in place. In all cases, the first stage of creating a financial settlement before divorce will involve both parties disclosing their financial status. This means listing assets, income streams, liabilities, outgoings and pensions, together with the documentation needed to prove the figures are true. If either partner fails to disclose everything, and the financial settlement is subsequently turned into a Court Order, then an application could later be made for that order to be set aside, on the grounds of full disclosure not having taken place.
Once these details have been agreed the parties need to sit down and try to negotiate an agreement. If this isn’t possible, despite the best efforts of a Higgins Miller lawyer acting as a mediator, a court will be asked to divide the finances. Working with the court in this way requires the up to the minute expertise and experience of the team at Higgins miller, and we’ll work to ensure that our client receives everything they are fairly entitled to, both now and in the future.
If you’d like to find out more about financial settlements before the divorce or the divorce process in general, please call us on 0161 429 7251 or email us at [email protected]. We’ve recently passed our Cyber Essential accreditation, something which demonstrates our forward-thinking attitude and determination to remain ahead of the competition. Our first 20-minute appraisal is provided free of charge, and we’ll give you a fixed fee first appointment, so you don’t have to worry about how much our advice is going to cost. If you want to explore our wider charging system then please take a look here.