When you decide to divorce, a key part of the divorce process is sharing out your money, property and other assets. This is done in a divorce financial settlement.
Sometimes called a financial order or a matrimonial agreement, a financial settlement is a final and binding distribution of assets between you and your spouse. Depending on the level of cooperation and the complexity of the assets involved, this can sometimes be a lengthy and difficult process.
When does a financial settlement take place? A divorce financial settlement is usually reached between the decree nisi and decree absolute — when the divorce is agreed but not finalised.
What assets are taken in account? A financial settlement can include decisions on property, savings, stocks and shares, pensions, debts and any other assets, as well as child custody (along with maintenance payments, school fees and other financial arrangements).
Are there any time limits? In most circumstances, there is no time limit on reaching a financial settlement. A settlement can be reached even if you already have a decree absolute (although it makes sense to reach an agreement on finances at the same time as the divorce itself).
Divorce Financial Settlement Eligibility
Anybody going through a divorce is entitled to a fair share of the money, property and assets that have built up during a marriage. There are several factors that courts will take into consideration when reaching a divorce financial settlement in Northern Ireland.
You and your spouse’s assets and finances
You and your spouse’s current and future needs
Each of your earnings now and for the foreseeable future
Expected changes in your or your spouse’s finances
The ages and needs of any children
You and your spouse’s age and health
How long you’ve been married (including time spent living together before you got married)
Any serious financial misconduct by you or your spouse
The standard of living you and your spouse enjoyed during the marriage.
Agreeing on a Fair Divorce Financial Settlement
There are several ways in which we can help you to reach a fair divorce settlement. That means an agreement that is fair to all parties, protects wealth and is relevant now as well as for the future. The best approach will depend on your individual circumstances — but we will always try to agree a settlement without needing to go to court.
Our main approaches are:
Direct Negotiation – Supporting you in direct negotiations with your spouse. We will provide our legal expertise to help you to channel negotiations towards an agreement.
Solicitor Negotiation – Take away some of the emotions involved by having us negotiate with your spouse’s solicitors. This can encourage an agreement that’s founded on legal experience.
Mediation – We can facilitate mediation sessions so that an experienced, impartial third party works with you and your spouse to reach an agreement. This can be useful for solving contention issues.
Arbitration – Similar to mediation, except that you and your spouse agree that an independent arbitrator will decide on what is a fair divorce financial settlement.
Court Proceedings – If a resolution can’t be reached by any other method, the case will go to court. A judge will consider sworn financial statements from you and your spouse and decide on a fair settlement.
Divorce Financial Settlement Process
This is the process for reaching a divorce financial settlement in Northern Ireland. Our experienced divorce solicitors will be able to guide you at every stage and give you all the support you need.
Step 1: Contact Reid Black Get in touch for free, no-obligation legal advice on your case. This could be about the divorce as a whole or specifically the financial settlement.
Step 2: Financial Disclosure You and your spouse will each share your payslips, bank statements, P60s, pension statements and other financial documents. This is part of a process called financial disclosure or financial discovery. We will exchange documents with your spouse’s solicitors and examine them for you.
Step 3: Negotiations Based on the information, we will start negotiations with your spouse’s solicitor to reach a fair settlement. With our collaborative and practical approach, we hope to be able to draft a matrimonial agreement signed by both parties without having to go to court. Negotiations typically take six to nine months.
Step 4: Court Financial Order If no agreement can be reached after negotiations, the matter will have to go to court. A judge called a Matrimonial Master will conduct a Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing and rule on a financial settlement.
Step 5: Financial Settlement Agreed Whether through a matrimonial agreement reached during negotiations or a financial order made in court, a final financial settlement will be agreed upon and will take effect.
We have some of the most experienced solicitors for divorce financial settlements in Northern Ireland within our team. We’ve built a strong reputation for securing fair, amicable and cost-effective outcomes for our clients. We’ll apply all of our experience, as well as our strong skills in negotiation and dispute resolution, to the individual circumstances of your divorce and secure the right outcome for you.
Financial settlements for civil partnerships work in a similar way to divorce financial settlements. The situation is more complicated for unmarried couples. If you’re not married, property and assets will usually belong to the person who bought or paid for them.
That depends on your individual circumstances, including the complexity of the assets involved and the degree to which all parties are willing to cooperate. If there is cooperation on both sides, a divorce financial agreement can usually be negotiated and settled in six to nine months. If an agreement can’t be reached and the case has to go to court, the process could take an extra four to five months or even longer.
If a divorce financial settlement can’t be agreed with your spouse or their solicitor, there are two main options. You and your spouse could agree to arbitration, which would mean an independent arbitrator creating a financial settlement. Otherwise, the case will have to go to court. In Northern Ireland, Financial Dispute Resolution Hearings are conducted by a judge called a Matrimonial Master, who will decide on a financial settlement.
Talk to us about your divorce financial settlement
Get in touch for free legal advice from our solicitors specialising in divorce financial settlements in Northern Ireland. We’ll guide you on your options at this difficult time with absolutely no obligation on you to proceed.
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