Amicable divorce financial settlements

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:

Child Support

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.

Spousal Maintenance

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:

Divorce & Consent Orders

Challenging or Appealing a Divorce Consent Order

Divorce & Costs

Clean Break Orders in Ancillary Relief Proceedings

Uncontested Divorce Guide

Annulment and Divorce

Annulment and Divorce

Annulment is a declaration by the court that a marriage was not legally valid or had become legally invalid. Annulment is different from divorce. In a divorce you are asking the court to end your marriage. However; in an annulment you are actually stating to a court that your marriage was never legal in the first place or, even if it was, it has since become legally invalid. An annulment must usually be for one of the following reasons:

  • If either party was already married at the time of your marriage
  • If either party didn’t or was unable to give valid consent to the marriage
  • If you or your spouse were under 16 at the time of the wedding
  • If you weren’t a male/female couple
  • If you and your spouse were related at the time of the marriage
  • If your spouse had a communicable form of a sexually transmitted disease when you got married
  • If your spouse was pregnant with someone else’s child and you didn’t know about it
  • If you didn’t conform with the proper legal requirements at the time of the marriage

Annulment is a very specialised area of the law and not at all straight-forward. If you feel that you have grounds to seek an annulmentof your marriage, you will need to discuss your particular circumstances in detail with one of our family lawyers who specialises in this area of law.

Applications for annulment are made to the court by presenting a ‘Nullity Petition’ within a reasonable period of time, usually within three years of the marriage. Unlike for divorce there is no requirement to have been married for 12 months before applying.

How long does it take and how much does it cost?

If the court finds that you are eligible and the case is uncontested by your spouse, an annulment petition will usually take between six to nine months to process. Unlike divorce, for an annulment you will almost always have to attend court in person with your lawyer.

In a case which is uncontested we can arrange an annulment for a fixed fee of £1,200 plus VAT and the Court fee of £340. Book a fixed fee annulment here.

Alternatively, if you are uncertain of your circumstances, we offer a free 30 minute telephone consultation to assess your position. Call us during normal office hours on 020 8401 7352 or email us your enquiry at Please remember to include your name and a contact telephone number when emailing us.  

Link between divorce and suicide

Link between divorcing parents and suicide

Adults whose parents divorced when they were children are more likely to consider suicide than their peers, researchers in Canada have suggested.

Lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson of the University of Toronto and colleagues examined gender specific differences in a sample of 6,647 adults, of whom 695 had experienced parental divorce before age 18.

The study published in the journal Psychiatry Research finds men from divorced families had more than three times the odds of suicidal ideation compared to men whose parents had not divorced. Adult daughters of divorce had 83 percent higher odds of suicidal thoughts than their female peers who had not experienced parental divorce.

The link between divorce and suicidal thoughts was stronger in families that included parental addiction, physical abuse and parental unemployment.

“This study suggests that the pathways linking parental divorce to suicidal ideation are different for men and women. The association between parental divorce and suicidal thoughts in men was unexpectedly strong, even when we adjusted for other childhood and adult stressors, socioeconomic status, depression and anxiety,” Fuller-Thomson says in a statement.

Read the full article at

Thinking about divorce?

What To Do If a Divorce Is Imminent

For many people, the thought of divorce can be both very stressful and trying. It is a time when emotions are running at their most overwhelming and much is said and done which is often regretted later. It is at times like this when having an expert divorce and family law solicitor who is sympathetic to your pain and at the same time is able to help in taking some of the strain of the breakdown in the marriage and assist in constructive negotiation is essential. If you believe your marriage has irreversibly broken down and that a divorce is unavoidable, you need to take some time out and think carefully about how you wish things to proceed. When you visit our office for the first time to discuss your proposed divorce, we will also need to obtain information from you about five essential issues you should be considering:


As soon as you know a divorce is imminent you need to consult a specialist divorce and family law solicitor who is an expert in that field of law. After all you would not take a broken finger to a mechanic so make sure that you think through your choice of solicitor carefully. A good solicitor will not just be one who knows their field of expertise. It is also important that you are able to communicate freely and comfortably with your solicitor and that you have confidence in their ability to safeguard your interests. At times like this cheap almost inevitably means ‘poor’ service. Divorce is one of the most painful experiences of life and it is vital to have an expert safeguarding you through such tumultuous times. Divorce law in England & Wales can be very complicated, especially relating to children matters and the financial aspects of the divorce, so make sure you know the facts from the experts and, don’t rely on advice from a mate who once went through a divorce!


If you have children, deciding which parent they will live with following the divorce is going to be one of the hardest decisions you’ll make in your life. It is normal to put your own feelings first, but remember, you are a parent and like all parents you want the very best for your children. You need to be realistic and ensure you are putting your children’s needs ahead of your own. Good solid legal advice from an expert solicitor coupled with some sensible mature thinking is unbeatable at times like this. You also need to bear in mind that where the children live after the divorce may very well impact a number of other factors, such as the financial aspects of the divorce or, worse still, who gets to stay in the house after the divorce. It also has a direct impact in the level of Child Maintenance payments that the non-resident parent may have to pay.


For most people their house is usually the most valuable asset they own. Losing the home, whether by selling it or worse yet losing it to your spouse can be extremely tough. When divorce is looming, you need to be thinking of whether or not you move out, whether your spouse moves out, or you both move out and sell the property. Despite what many people think, even spouses whose name is not on the deeds or who have contributed relatively little money to the household in the past will still have an equitable interest in the property. Consideration needs to be given to the extent of each of your interests in the equity of the house and how this will be paid. Money often brings out the worst in people’s charatcters and never moreso than during divorce. It is vital that you obtain expert and sensible advice as to your entitlements to the finances of the divorce and particularly that you do not rely on information being ‘fed’ to you by your soon-to-be-parting spouse. The financial aspects of the divorce are called Ancillary Relief proceedings. An expert family law solicitor will have unique experience of settling disputes between married couples over money and assets, including ideas that may well have never occured to you as possibilities. Negotiation skills will be vital in these cicumstances and during times of war, even Governments call in the experts to help negotiate a settlement. Think carefully about the financial implications of your proposed divorce and make sure that you tell your solicitor everything. You can get into a lot of trouble for withholding the full facts and figures.


Savings, just like all other assets must be shared in a divorce. This is an aspect of divorce that many people overlook. However there can often be many arguments for or against sharing savings and an expert family law solicitor will guide you through the options after obtaining all the facts and figures from you. Savings will often include your pension, but there are special rules that apply to pensions and the division of pensions can be very complex. The same applies to stocks & shares you may jointly have.


When a divorce is unavoidable, you should think fast about cancelling all joint credit cards and transferring loans to the person who is benefiting from the loan, such as transferring car loans to the person using the car. It is amazing how many divorced people in England today have bad credit ratings due to the actions of their ex-spouse after they divorced still having an effect on their credit rating. You may divorce your spouse in real life but as far as the credit rating agencies are concerned, you are still joined together. Debts will also reduce the amount of equity available to split and in some circumstances it may be able to apportion debt to one of you rather than the other, thereby reducing the other parties liability on the divorce settlement.

Divorce in England can be lengthy and stressful. So, if a divorce is imminent, try and make sure your affairs are in order as soon as you can and always ensure that you take the best possible advice available from the experts. We can help you get started. We offer a free 30 minute telephone consultation which will provide you with some basic advice relating to your circumstances and will also guide you through some of the pitfalls of the divorce process. Call us during normal office hours on 020 8401 7352 and you will be put through to an expert divorce and family law solicitor on a no obligation basis. Bear in mind we do get rather a lot of calls and if none of our solicitors are available to speak with you when you call, leave your name and number and we will call you back as soon as possible. We are members of Resolution and as such we are committed to helping divorcing couples through the divorce process amicably and smoothly.

Challenging or Appealing a Divorce Consent Order

Divorce and Consent Orders

It is a terrible shame that when a marriage breaks down and divorce proceedings become a reality, the parties attitude toward money and the finances of the divorce also takes on a new appearance and, sadly, can often bring out the very worst in people.

The Financial Aspects of a Divorce is called Ancillary Relief. There are four ways in which couples will usually deal with the financial aspects of the divorce (the ancillary relief), but no matter which route you take, to make it legally binding you must have a Consent Order. You could:

  1. agree a financial separation package between them and then encopass this in a legally binding agreement called a Consent Order
  2. not agree on the financial aspects of the divorce and proceed down the court route, called Ancillary Relief
  3. opt for mediation to help agree on terms and then encompass that agreement in a legally binding agreement called a Consent Order
  4. do nothing

We have already dealt with option 4, do nothing, before and for the reasons set out here, it is not a very good idea. Nevertheless it is astonishing how often people opt for this option, only to regret it later.

Option 3, mediation, is excellent if, despite the divorce you both have the ability to sit in a room and discuss the finances of your divorce with an impartial third party in a fair and reasonable manner. Mediation is tough and certainly not ideal for everybody, but when it works, it works quite well. There is no reason why you should not just give mediation a try any way and, if worst comes worst and you can’t agree, then you still have the option of proceeding down the court route through Ancillary Relief

Option 2, Ancillary Relief, is a process which is set out in law in some detail. Essentially it involves application being made to the court to assess your financial position and that involves a full and frank disclosure of all your financial details with your former spouse. The procedure for Ancillary Relief is set out here. You can also contact us for a free 30 minute telephone consultation on 020 8401 7352 about the financial aspects of your divorce should you require.

option 1, where you are able to agree the financial aspects of your divorce without recourse to any third party is of course the ideal situation. However; when taking this route, parties should still always ensure that they at least take professional legal advice from an expert family law solicitor. This does not need to be a costly exercise. We often advise people on the pro’s and con’s of the agreement they are reaching with their former spouse and the costs of this advice is often little more than a consultation fee or perhaps a couple of hours of our time. In such a case we would not be ‘representing’ you in your matter, but we would be advising you in the background.

You should bear in mind that a financial settlement needs to take into account many different aspects, including any properties, valuable possessions, business assets or shares, back accounts, savings, investments, and pensions too. This process often involves some form of valuations being carried out. These can be complex valuations involving reports from experts, but in most cases we can value assets for you using relatively cost effective means.

Once an agreement is reached, no matter which route is followed, that agreement must be set out in a legally binding document called a Consent Order. Essentially a Consent Order is a court Order which has been reached by ‘consent’ or by ‘agreement’ between the parties. Therefore the parties will sign the consent order and this will be filed at the court where a Judge will review the agreement and, only once the Judge is satisfied that it is a fair agreement to reach, will the Judge seal the agreement into a legally binding court order, called a Consent Order. The procedure for a Consent Order can still be a relatively straightforward matter, but nevertheless one that still requires expert legal advice before it is filed. Again this does not need to involve endless legal fees and it very often something that we can do on your behalf for a modest fixed fee of a few hundred pounds.

Failing to encompass your agreement in a Consent Order is about as good as not bothering to reach an agreement in the first place. Only Consent Orders are legally binding agreements. Anything written out on the kitchen table, even if witnessed by friends and family is very unlikley to have much legal value if and when it comes to a disagreement. A Consent Order is a final court order and rarely can your ex-spouse question the consent order or try to challenge it through the courts.

In some circumstances though consent Orders can be challenged through the courts, often long after they have been made. The law relating to challenging a consent order is rather complex and it is not advisable that anyone starts this route without first taking expert legal advice from specialist family law solicitors. If you already have a consent order or Ancillary Relief Order which has been made by a court and you are considering appealing or challenging that consent order or Ancillary Relief Order we can offer you a free initial 30 minute telephone consultation during which we will assess the possible merits of your case and advise you as to whether you may be able to satisfy the requirements of the law in bringing your appeal or challenge. During that free consultation we may also be able to provide you with an estimate of what this work is likely to cost. You can also contact us for a free 30 minute telephone consultation on 020 8401 7352.