Ultimate Guide to Financial Settlements

By Helen Benussi

When marriages or civil partnerships break down, one of the most pressing issues is reaching and agreeing.

When marriages or civil partnerships break down, one of the most pressing issues is reaching and agreeing on a financial settlement that divides assets fairly.

In the UK, the law around financial settlements is complex. Family courts in England have wide discretionary powers and each case is assessed on its own circumstances. The law is specifically designed in this way to provide courts with the ability to reach favourable outcomes for each family.

This does, however, mean that there are no set rules in place. This may seem daunting to many but it facilitates the court’s ability to be flexible and give rulings appropriately.

The most common starting point is to assess what financial assets you and your partner have and then consider the future financial needs of both parties.

Row of houses

Valuing Matrimonial Assets

Matrimonial assets can be defined as any asset acquired during the marriage by either party. These are considered during the settlement and divided between parties accordingly.

It is essential that all parties disclose full financial resources, including property, business interests, stocks & shares, savings, pensions and other investments. If you believe your ex-partner to be hiding assets, Benussi’s team of financial settlement specialists will help expose them.

Detailed budgets and evidence of capital needs must also be provided. This includes things like the provision of a car or funds to refurbish a new home. Parties will also need to disclose details of the marriage background, i.e. respective roles and contributions along with the standard of living during the marriage.

How Financial Assets Are Split

If you are unable to agree on a settlement between yourselves, then you can apply to the court to assist. In this case, a judge decides how assets will be split once a complete picture of all assets has been pieced together. Although each individual case is assessed and judged on its own merits, there is a loose framework followed by the courts:

  • The starting point is equal division. It is then up to the court to consider several statutory factors that may or may not influence an unequal split
  • The court’s aim is always fair division, leaving both parties equally able to maintain their standard of living
  • The needs of any children involved in the divorce are always taken into consideration early on. This means that although the court will attempt to split assets equally, the needs of a child (and the parent housing them) will come first
  • There is a clear distinction between matrimonial and non-matrimonial assets
  • There are no assumptions made when calculating any maintenance payments. For example, courts have the power to order capitalised maintenance where a one-off sum is paid, as opposed to a regular agreement

The Divorce Process: Financial Settlement

In order to get a financial settlement Order, divorce proceedings must have begun. The court must be satisfied that the marriage has broken down due to adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion or separation for a sustained period.

Obtaining a financial order means that all financial responsibilities between parties are finished for good. A ‘clean break order’ is given when there are no shared assets and all financial ties are broken. A ‘consent order’ is used when divorcing parties have shared assets that need division.

Routes to financial settlement

There are two routes to financial settlement:

Mediation – the collaboration between parties involving arbitration or a private Dispute Resolution.

Court Proceedings – this is where a court will decide on the division of assets and settle all financial matters. This is often a much slower process than mediation.

How Benussi Gets The Best Outcome For You

Benussi & Co specialise in resolving high net worth divorces and financial disputes resulting from the breakdown of marriages and civil partnerships. This includes, but is not limited to, the settling of:

  • Business & investment interests
  • Farming interests
  • International aspects
  • Pensions
  • Trust assets

To discuss your options when it comes to asset splitting and financial settlement, speak to our team of expert divorce lawyers today.

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