Dealing with financial issues arising out of a divorce or separation can be one of the most challenging and worrying aspects of separation that many people face. Suddenly everything potentially is going to change. How do we afford two houses instead of one? Who will stay who will go? How do we pay the bills? This can be daunting whether you are the person who historically dealt with financial matters or not. Change in itself can be frightening.
When you talk to one of our solicitors, we will look at various things, such as how to try and reach an agreement, and what that agreement might look like. The ‘how’ can often be as significant as what is ultimately agreed.
Different people want to negotiate in different ways – whichever method you choose, you will both need to make full and frank disclosure of your financial position to include your capital, income and pension. This information will then be exchanged with your husband/wife/partner and will then form the basis of a schedule of assets and debts which we can use tobuild a financial picture. This duty of full and frank disclosure is an absolute duty in family proceedings and is an ongoing duty. In other words it does not stop and you need to effectively keep us appraised of any changes in your financial circumstances on an ongoing basis.
How you decide to reach an agreement very much depends on the relationship between yourself and your husband/wife/partner. There are various options for example mediation, collaborative law, arbitration, round table meetings or face to face solicitors negotiations.
In terms of how the Court looks at financial settlements the relevant legislation is the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. As you will appreciate, this is now old law and inevitably case law has developed the concepts laid down in that piece of legislation. That said, the 1973 Act sets out the Orders that the Court has the power to make – https://www.gov.uk/money-property-when-relationship-ends/apply-for-a-financial-order and the factors that the Court is obliged to take into account in considering whether a financial settlement is fair and reasonable.
These are known as the section 25 factors http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1973/18/section/25. The amount of weight that is attached to each of the factors very much depends on the individual circumstances of the case for example you might have a case where there is a significant difference in terms of the parties respective earning capacity or age may be a factor or health or a young family.
Your solicitor will guide you through the process and initially will look at what your respective needs are from an income, capital and pension perspective. The ultimate outcome will depend upon the assets that are available for distribution and the resources of the parties. No two cases are the same.
All our solicitors at Hawkins Family Law are members of Resolution – First for Family Law. This means that we subscribe to a code of practice that is geared towards encouraging a constructive and non-confrontational approach in all family matters which we believe assists people when they are going through divorce or separation and helps them avoid the often costly and slow court process. Sometimes however Court proceedings may be unavoidable and, if that is the case, we will ensure that each stage of the process is explained clearly to you so that you understand what is expected of you and what will happen at any given hearing.
For more information on the court process please follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/money-property-when-relationship-ends/overview
Hawkins Family Law fields 'a very professional team that delivers a high-class service and has strength-in-depth from senior to junior level'. Managing director and team head Jo Hawkins provides 'clear and accurate advice and moral support through often testing times for her clients; she focuses on deriving the best long-term outcome for her client and other parties'. The practice has particular strength financial matters, including divorce and ToLATA proceedings. Other key figures include Loraine Davenport, who has strong collaborative law expertise and handles complex children cases and high-net-worth ancillary relief matters; Annabel Hayward, who focuses on complex financial provision and co-habitation matters; and Stacey St Clair.
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What the team is known for
Boutique family law firm that punches above its weight in terms of high-value and complex matrimonial finance instructions relating to business assets, pensions and substantial property portfolios, including assisting with the handling of assets abroad. Also represents clients in the negotiation of wealth protection agreements and private law childcare arrangements. Fields a team trained in collaborative law and alternative dispute resolution.
An impressed client says: "The team's personal service and individual care is a great asset,"adding that the lawyers are "always available to assist and understand the occasional need for immediate advice and guidance, providing a very reassuring service."
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