When marriages and civil partnerships end and couples decide to permanently separate there are often financial issues that need to be resolved. If the Court has to become involved in deciding how assets are going to be split, the proceedings are called Ancillary Relief proceedings.
We understand that this is often the most stressful part of the separation, which causes much anxiety, particularly when there are children to consider.
When a husband and wife or a same sex couple go through a divorce or dissolution of civil partnership the Court has various powers it can exercise:-
• the power to make an Order for transfer of property;
• the power to Order the payment of a lump sum or lump sums, by one party to the other;
• the power to order pension sharing;
• the power to make an Order for one party to pay spousal maintenance to the other.
When an application is made to the Court, the Court takes various matters into account when considering what Order should be made. The Court considers all the circumstances of the case, gives first consideration to the welfare of any children of the family under the age of 18 and, in particular, the Court has regard to the following matters: –
a) The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each spouse has or is like to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity, any increase in that capacity which it would be in the opinion of the Court reasonable to expect a person to take steps to acquire.
b) The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each spouse has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.
c) The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the break down of the marriage.
d) The ages of each spouse and duration of the marriage.
e) Any physical or mental disability of each spouse.
f) The contributions which each spouse has made or is likely to make in the foreseeable future to the welfare of the family, including the contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family.
g) The conduct of each spouse, if that conduct is such that it would, in the opinion of the Court be inequitable to disregard.
h) The value to each spouse of any benefit which one spouse, because of divorce, will lose the chance of acquiring (most usually pension provision).
Clean Break Orders
Even if you don’t have any assets, it is still worth considering having a Clean Break Order prepared. This will prevent your ex-spouse making a claim against you for financial support should you acquire money or assets after your separation.
A Clean Break Order means that once the Order is approved, there can be no question of either you or your husband coming back to the Court in the future to make any further claim against each other. It also means that neither of you will be able to make a claim against each other if one of you should die.
The Clean Break operates regardless of any change of circumstances. For example, if your former wife came into a large sum of money, you would not have any claim against that money, likewise, if you fell on hard times you would not be able to use that to make any claim against her.
Financing Ancillary Relief Proceedings
There is Legal Aid available for Ancillary Relief proceedings in a very limited number of cases. It is only available to people who can evidence that they have been the victim of domestic abuse. The evidence required is very specific. We can discuss this with you if you believe you may be eligible for Legal Aid.
If you are not eligible for Legal Aid we can discuss our fees with you. The likely cost of your case will depend on the number of hours we spend working on your case, the level of complexity of the issues involved and the seniority and experience of the Solicitor dealing with your case.