What is a Divorce Settlement?
When you get a divorce, you’ll need to agree what happens to your finances. The details of this agreement are set out in a legal document known as a divorce settlement. It can cover things such as:
- What happens to the family home
- How assets and debts should be shared
- Child maintenance payments
A divorce settlement only deals with the financial side of your divorce. Any childcare arrangements are dealt with separately.
Getting a Divorce Settlement
You can agree a divorce settlement at any stage of your divorce proceedings. Ideally, this should be done before the Decree Absolute is issued. In other words, before the divorce is made final. You cannot have it ratified by the court however and made binding until decree nisi has been pronounced and this can often be some time after the agreement is reached.
The way in which you reach a divorce settlement will depend on the level of agreement between you and your ex-partner.
If You Agree to Divorce
Some couples getting a divorce can decide what happens to their finances, without having to involve a Divorce Solicitor. If this is you, we still recommend that you make the agreement legally binding. To do this, you’ll need to apply to Court for a Consent Order.
The Courts will check that your divorce settlement is fair and reasonable to each person. If a Judge is satisfied, a Consent Order will be issued. This is essential, because it settles the financial ties between you. Ideally, you should be looking for a clean break so that neither of you have any form of ongoing financial responsibility to the other, although this is not always possible. Otherwise, your ex could ask for further financial provision at any time in the future.
This is very important, so it’s worth emphasising again: a divorce does not end your financial obligations towards your ex. If you want to end this commitment, you must turn your divorce settlement into a Consent Order.
Our Divorce Solicitors can apply for a Consent Order on your behalf. We can represent you, meaning you don’t need to go to Court in person.
If You Don’t Agree to Divorce
If you can’t agree on your finances, and as your future financial position is at stake, it’s best to get your own Divorce Solicitor. Your Simpson Millar Divorce Solicitor will ask your ex-partnerspo to disclose details of all their financial assets. This information will be used to determine what a fair divorce settlement would look like in your case.
Your Divorce Solicitor will then negotiate directly with your ex (or their Solicitor) to reach an agreement. We’ll work in your best interests, ensuring you get the financial assets you’re entitled to.
If negotiations don’t work, the next step is to try Mediation. This is now compulsory for separating couples who can’t agree on a divorce settlement, unless it’s not appropriate – for example, there’s a history of domestic violence.
If negotiations and Mediation are unsuccessful, the final option is to apply to Court for a Financial Order. It is then up to a Judge to decide on your financial arrangements. This decision will be based on what the Judge feels is a ‘fair and reasonable’ outcome for each person. The Court will then issue a Consent Order, making the arrangement legally binding.