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Financial Disputes on Divorce: FAQ’s

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Q. My wife and I have decided to divorce. How do we sort out our finances?

A. One of the most difficult things to sort out on separation or divorce is the family finances and how both parties will be able to support themselves and their children in the future. As you are married, you and your wife have financial claims against each other. The starting point will be an equal division of everything you both have, including capital and income. Various factors will then be considered to decide if this is a fair division in your circumstances, such as the needs of any children, the needs of the parties, your ages and how long you have been married for.

Q. My husband and I have been separated for a while and I do not know what his financial position is. How can I find this out so I can decide what is a fair settlement?

A. You and your husband have a duty to give full and frank disclosure to each other about your financial position. We would always recommend that you and your husband go through ‘full financial disclosure’ by using a financial form called form E. You both complete and exchange a form E giving details of your assets, savings, investments, bank accounts, pensions, liabilities and income, along with supporting documentation. You will then have a clear picture of each other’s financial position and what is there to be divided between you.

If your husband refuses to complete a form E, you may need to issue financial proceedings at court. The court will then require your husband to do the form E as part of the court process. You will need to consider mediation and attend a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) before issuing court proceedings.

Q. My husband earns a lot more than I do and he has now left the family home. I am concerned that he is going to stop paying towards the mortgage and utilities. What should I do?

A. You should try to agree an amount with your husband that he will pay to you each month to support yourself whilst the finances are agreed. This is called spousal maintenance and if it is to be paid in the interim whilst you agree a financial settlement it is known as ‘maintenance pending suit’. This is in addition to any child maintenance that he should be paying to you if you have children.

If your husband will not agree to pay you this maintenance, you may have to issue court proceedings to seek a maintenance pending suit order requiring him to pay. You will have to show that your reasonable outgoings are more than your income (including child maintenance) and that your husband’s income exceeds his reasonable outgoings. You are effectively asking for a share of his surplus income to support yourself.

Q. My wife and I are going through divorce proceedings and have reached an agreement about how we will divide our finances. Should we put this in writing?

A. You should set out your agreement in a consent order for the court which you will both need to sign. You should both seek independent legal advice before you sign anything.

You can send the signed consent order in to the court once the decree nisi (interim decree) is pronounced in the divorce proceedings. You will both also need to complete a basic financial statement called a statement of information. A judge will then consider the consent order and will usually approve it by sealing the order. Sometimes the judge may ask questions about the order. Once it is sealed by the court, the order will be binding on both of you and is usually effective from when the decree absolute (final divorce decree) is granted.

If you do not put your agreement into a consent order and have it approved by the judge, your agreement will not be binding. Your financial claims against each other will continue into the future even after divorce. If you are the respondent to the divorce proceedings and you remarry in the future, you may lose these financial claims unless you take certain steps.

If you would like to discuss financial matters or any aspect of divorce, please contact our family law team on 01293 596900 to arrange a fixed fee appointment for £100 plus vat (£120).

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