Basic Principles of an Amicable Divorce Financial Settlement
An amicable financial settlement is something that a divorcing couple may be able to achieve in cetain circumstances to save them the stress and expense of a trial in court. Essentially the aim is for a divorcing couple to try and reach agreement to divide their assets when divorcing and to encapsulate their agreement in a legally binding document that protects them both. An amicable settlement usually requires you to be a reasonably decent talkingterms with your spouse. Where relations are very emotional and difficult, reaching an amicable settlement becomes more difficult. However; it is highly recommended that you consult an expert family law solicitor as soon as possible in the process and make sure that the solicitors you consult are members of Resolution. Resolution members have committed to try always to help clients reach an amicable settlement wherever possible. This makes the process of divorce easier and more cost effective for both parties.
When considering a financial settlement on divorce, there are several factors that need to be decided, these include:
Where there are children involved then some kind of child maintenance will usually be payable by the non-resident parent. As a general rule the Child Support Agency guidelines suggest that the non-resident parent should be making a contribution of 15% – 20% of their net monthly salary by way of child maintenance. However; the number of days a month the child spends staying with the non-resident parent also needs to be taken into account and deducted from this payment. Parents can of course always agree a figure for child maintenance that is more or less than the guidance figure, but that needs them both to agree.
In some circumstances spousal maintenance may be payable. This is usually not something that anyone who is getting divorced usually wants to pay, but the law may demand that it is paid, at least for a while. For example, if your spouse has never worked outside the home and needs time to get the training needed to land a job to support themselves, they may need some spousal maintenance, whilst they get themselves on their feet. Most people will not want to pay spousal maintenance but, if your spouse makes an application to the court, you may be ordered to pay it. By discussing it between the two of you, you have more of a say in how much you will pay and how long you will continue to pay it.
Division of Assets
The most conntentious aspect that needs to be considered is the division of assets of the marriage. These assets will usually comprise the house, cars, savings, stocks, and items inside the house, or anything that was bought or acquired during the marriage and any businesses. Nobody ever wants to share these assets when a marriage breaks down, but the law simply dictates that each of the parties to the marriage are entitled to a share of the assets. Therefore, living in denial will simply result in protracted and potentially costly court proceedings. It is best to be reasonable and make a sensible offer to your spouse. If it does go to court, the spouse who makes the least amount of money and has custody of the children is more likely to receive a majority of the assets though the English legal system. There are many ways of splitting the assets and you can give more of one thing and less of another to help balance out the position. Often you will need to consider selling the largest asset, usually the family home, and splitting the net proceeds of sale between you. Of course the percentage split will depend on your circumstances and no two cases will ever be the same. Expert advice from a family law solicitor will be invaluable at this stage. Make sure you always get the best possible advice and remember that ‘cheap’ advice will invariably mean ‘poor’ advice. A good solicitor will be able to help you argue your corner much better and in the longrun can save you a huge amount of money.
Once you feel that you have agreed the basics of a financial settlement, an expert family law solicitor will help you to draw up a legally enforceable agreement called a ‘consent order‘ which will be filed at the court on your behalf. We can usually conduct this work on your behalf. In a relatively straightforward situation we offer a fixed fee of £500 plus VAT, plus court fees for this service.
We also offer a free 30 minute telephone consultation with no obligation on your part. During that free consultation we will advise you of the law and help you assess your circumstances and suggest a way forward for you. We will also be able to tell you what our fees will be for conducting your work and will usually be able to offer you a fixed fee option which most clients prefer. Call us during normal office hours on 020 8401 7352 for your free 30 minute telephone consultation.
For more information on consent orders and amicable divorces see our articles on: