As part of dividing assets fairly during divorce, the court has the power to make certain, specific orders. These include:
The court may choose to order one party to pay the other a single lump sum or multiple payments over time. Lump sums are often a way to cover the cost of one party taking property ownership or to remove the need for ongoing spousal maintenance payments.
The court also has the power to order the transfer or sale of owned property, typically in the form of a family home. In the case of sales, the outcome of that sale can then be divided between the parties. Transferring property may mean changing the ownership from one individual to another or entirely removing ownership from one party.
The court may order spousal maintenance in specific cases, whether that support is ongoing, fixed or until re-marriage. Alongside spousal maintenance, courts have limited powers over the approval of child maintenance. For further disputes, an application directly to the Child Support Agency is required.
As of 2000, the court is empowered to order pensions to be divided if necessary. An example of this would be if one partner had a pension, which can then be divided into two separate funds to support both individuals following divorce.
In longer marriages the question of what happens to each partner’s pension becomes a significant consideration. Pension arrangements are usually dealt with by the Court in one of three ways:
One party is given a percentage share of their former spouse’s pension pot, which is transferred as a lump sum.
One party retains their pension, but in exchange gives up their claim on another asset, such as the family home.
In this arrangement, a portion of the pension is paid regularly to the other party, similar to a maintenance payment.
These options only relate to private pensions: government guidelines state that the basic state pension cannot be shared if a marriage or civil partnership ends.
How is property divided following divorce?
There is no straightforward formula for determining what happens to a shared property after divorce.
The starting point in terms of entitlement is equality, but the judge will consider all of the factors outlined above, any one of which may result in the actual division being something other than equality.
The most important factor is usually each parties’ housing need and their ability to meet it. The economically weaker party may need a greater share of the assets to meet his or her needs, especially if he or she has additionally to house children.
It is important to note that like other aspects of the financial settlement, once the court is involved they can exercise their power to block or force the sale of a property or decide on the distribution of proceeds from a sale.
In cases where a property is held in only one party’s name, for example, the court can help to protect the other party from losing out if they feel it necessary, although in cases where someone doesn’t have their name on a property’s mortgage, it is always best for them to try to protect their position as soon as possible themselves by notifying the Land Registry of their interest.
How is a financial agreement recorded in divorce matters?
Any financial agreements you make as a part of your divorce should be recorded as a binding financial order. Whether these agreements go into court or are agreed amicably, experienced divorce solicitors will be able to correctly record and file all necessary documentation for you and ensure that the process is carried out in a smooth, efficient and stress-free manner.
Should I attend mediation for divorce?
Mediation has many benefits and can be a very useful tool to help keep the cost of a divorce down. During mediation, you and your partner will meet with an independent, trained mediator who can help you constructively discuss and resolve disagreements such as financial issues and childcare arrangements.
Attendance at a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is mandatory before you can progress your divorce to the court, but it should not be seen just as a hoop to jump through. The mediator will explain in the course of the MIAM how mediation works and will consider whether it is suitable in your particular case.
If both parties involved in the divorce can enter into mediation with a genuine desire to communicate and a commitment to the process, mediation can prove a much less financially and emotionally taxing method of resolving divorce disputes.
During mediation, the mediator will remain independent and impartial. Their role in the process is not to advise on what decisions either party should make, but simply to facilitate conversation between the two parties. At the end of the process, they will help you draft a Memorandum of Understanding, which can then be passed onto a solicitor to be turned into a legally binding Consent Order.
As well as being specialist divorce lawyers, our family law team at Elite Law Solicitors can also assist you with mediation. If you are considering mediation get in touch with us today by calling 0800 086 2929, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing our Free Online Enquiry Form.
What is collaborative law?
Collaborative law offers an alternative approach to taking disputes to court. This approach involves each party appointing a trained collaborative lawyer to represent them.
The couple and their respective lawyers will then attend a series of four-way meetings, sometimes with a family consultant present as well, to discuss and attempt to settle any outstanding issues, from finances and logistics to arrangements for children. Provided a couple is willing to work together constructively, the benefits of collaborative law are numerous.
While the exact number of meetings a dispute will take to resolve varies, on average the process can be completed within a couple of months. With the quicker resolution comes a lower financial cost, too. Perhaps just as importantly, the collaborative approach hands more control to those involved.
Instead of a Judge making a final decision, in collaborative law the ultimate resolution to any dispute is arrived at through a process of constructive conversation, meaning that the end result is likely to be much more acceptable to all parties.
It is important to note that, while similar, collaborative law is not the same as mediation. In mediation, a disputing couple will attend meetings with a single, independent mediator. The couples’ individual divorce solicitors do not attend the mediation but can be referred to if a particular issue arises in the mediation process upon which either party needs legal advice. Like mediation however, collaborative law can prove a much less financially and emotionally taxing method of resolving divorce disputes.
Can I change my name after divorce?
Many individuals choose to change their name after divorce. If you choose a new name entirely, you will need to apply for a Deed Change of Name. More commonly known as a Deed Poll, this legal document proves that you have changed your name.
If you return to a maiden name, it may be possible to revert your ID and information with copies of your birth certificate, marriage certificate and decree absolute. However, a Deed Poll is the best method to ensure your new name is accepted everywhere.
Do divorce solicitors offer Legal Aid funding?
If you cannot afford to cover the costs of divorce, you may be able to apply for Legal Aid directly through the government website.
Legal Aid can be used to cover the costs of mediation, or you may be eligible if you are at risk of homelessness or if you have experienced domestic abuse from your marriage partner in the past five years.
Our divorce solicitors at Elite Law Solicitors do not offer legal aid services.
Can I defend a divorce petition?
If your marriage partner has applied for divorce, you have the legal right to defend the petition. In essence, this means that you do not accept the grounds for divorce, or you do not believe the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Once you have returned your Acknowledgement of Service form confirming your intention to defend, a short hearing will then be placed before a Judge for a final decision to be made.
We married abroad – can I get a divorce in the UK?
If both yourself and your spouse reside in the UK as your main home, you will be able to get a divorce. Similarly, if you live in the UK and your marriage partner does not, you can get divorced in the UK as your country of residence. If you are currently a UK resident, but you chose to get married to your partner legally abroad, the same rules apply.
For a divorce to be recognised, the marriage itself must also be recognised as legal and official. An original marriage certificate will be required for your divorce application, including a translation if the certificate is in another language. Seeking legal advice on international marriages from experienced divorce solicitors is always a good idea to ensure the best possible outcome.
Is an Islamic Nikah a legal marriage in the UK?
For a marriage to be legally valid, it must be held in a registered building. Any Nikah in an unregistered building that does not include an additional civil ceremony is not recognised as a legal marriage.
If you are unsure of your legal position and you were married through a Nikah ceremony, our experienced divorce solicitors will be able to assist.
Get in touch with our expert divorce solicitors
If you are going through a divorce or separation call 0800 086 2929, email email@example.com or complete our Free Online Enquiry Form to arrange an initial consultation and let one of our experienced divorce solicitors explain your legal rights and options.