Divorce Financial Settlements
Following separation, it’s often the financial negotiations that are most fiercely contested. But whilst it’s important to ensure your own financial stability, it can also be difficult to reach an agreement that both of you consider to be fair.
As family law specialists, we believe that the best way of resolving financial settlement issues is through negotiation, where that is possible. Within our family law team, we have trained collaborative lawyers who can help you reach an amicable financial agreement together.
If negotiation isn’t possible, however, our divorce solicitors will go to court to protect your position and ensure the best outcome for you. We will always discuss which approach is best for you in your particular circumstances.
With decades of experience across our family law team, we can provide the skilled, empathetic and pragmatic legal support you need to successfully secure the right divorce settlement for you and your loved ones, no matter how challenging the circumstances.
Get in touch with our divorce financial settlement specialists in Bristol
To speak to our specialist divorce solicitors in Bristol about making a financial settlement, contact us on 0117 325 2929, click here to make an immediate start online or complete our online enquiry form.
In some areas of family law, we offer a complimentary introductory meeting with a member of our family law team. This 30-minute meeting is designed for you to get to know your solicitor and to discuss your options. If specific advice is required and you’d like to continue past the 30 minutes, please let your solicitor know and you may be able to carry on into a more detailed consultation. This time will be chargeable, but your solicitor will tell you how much it will be.
Our divorce settlement services
In most cases, we can help you agree a divorce settlement voluntarily. Either through straightforward negotiation with your ex-partner or their solicitor, or via non-confrontational dispute resolution methods, such as family mediation.
Assets that may be considered for a divorce settlement include:
- Your family home and any other property you own
- Pension entitlements
- Family businesses
Voluntary divorce settlements
Mediation and collaborative law helps divorcing couples to reach financial settlements out of court. Both can allow you to agree a settlement voluntarily. This will typically save you time and money compared to relying on court proceedings to achieve a financial settlement.
Using mediation for a divorce settlement
Following separation or divorce, it’s often the financial negotiations that are most fiercely contested. But if you’re committed to working through your issues constructively and without conflict, using mediation to agree finances can help you to agree on a settlement that you both consider to be fair, balanced and reasonable.
The first step in financial mediation is for you both to compile a detailed list of assets, liabilities, income and expenditure. This should include your home and its contents, the value of your pensions and any savings or debts.
It’s important that your financial disclosure is full, honest and frank – so take advice from a specialist solicitor, financial adviser or estate agent if necessary.
The next step will involve you both, with the support of your mediator, speaking openly and constructively about finding a workable solution. You’ll be encouraged to formulate and develop ideas and proposals, looking at whether these are achievable. You’ll also need to consider your options based on what is practical and possible for you both.
It’s worth noting that whichever route you take to resolve financial issues – whether through a solicitor or by going to court – the process can be largely the same.
Any financial settlement you agree through mediation will be recorded in a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’. It is a good idea to have your own solicitor review the details of the settlement recorded in this Memorandum of Understanding before taking action to carry out the terms of your agreement.
You will usually need to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to find out whether mediation could be right for you before being allowed to apply to a court for help with your divorce financial settlement.
Using collaborative law for a divorce settlement
A number of our family law team are also trained collaborative lawyers. This offers an alternative to mediation for those who wish to avoid court proceedings, but have more complex or contentious issues to resolve that they do not feel confident making an agreement about without the support of a lawyer.
Collaborative law involves a series of four-way meetings between you, your former partner and your respective collaborative-trained lawyers. The aim is to negotiate a divorce settlement with the benefit of your own legal advisers on hand to make sure your interests are protected and to help guide you through any more challenging issues involved.
The lawyers who represent you during collaborative law negotiations cannot represent you if your settlement later goes to court. This ensures everyone is fully committed to achieving a positive outcome within the process.
Court-ordered divorce settlements
In some cases, you may need to apply to a court to make a divorce settlement for you. This may be the case if you cannot agree a divorce settlement through negotiation, mediation or collaborative law. Or, if any of these approaches are not appropriate under the circumstances, for example, where there has been domestic abuse, or there is a lack of trust in the other party, or a particularly complex issue to resolve.
Our divorce and separation solicitors can support you in your application and represent you during any subsequent hearing, helping to ensure you get a fair settlement that provides for your needs and those of your loved ones.
Our divorce settlement fees
The fees involved will depend on the circumstances and the approach taken towards making the financial settlement. Generally, mediation will be the least costly option for most people.
We will be happy to discuss our hourly rates and estimated fees with respect to making a divorce settlement. We can provide you with the information you need to decide how you wish to proceed. To find out more about our divorce settlement fees, please get in touch.
We also provide a means tested fixed-fee divorce settlement service for straightforward separations. This covers the cost of legally ending your marriage and negotiating or drafting a financial agreement.
Legal aid for divorce settlements
Legal aid is no longer available for divorce, except in exceptional circumstances, such as a history of domestic abuse. If you think you may be eligible for legal aid funding for your divorce, please get in touch.
Divorce financial settlement FAQs
The legal process of getting divorced is entirely separate from that for making a financial settlement, so who ’takes the blame‘ for the divorce should not impact either party’s entitlements when making your divorce settlement.
If your settlement is made through a family court, the court will only consider what is fair based on each party’s financial situation and requirements. This should also be the approach when working towards a voluntary settlement through negotiation, mediation or collaborative law.
There are various factors should be considered when working towards a divorce settlement and that a judge will consider when making a financial settlement for you in a family court.
Key considerations or divorce settlements which include each party’s:
- Income and earning capacity
- Financial needs
- Standard of living while married
- Contributions to the marriage (both financial and non-financial)
- Loss of benefits resulting from the divorce (e.g. pension entitlements)
- And, most importantly, the needs of any children of the family
It is now relatively rare for a divorce settlement to be handled through court proceedings. It is much more normal for modern couples getting divorced to agree a settlement voluntarily using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
The most common approach is to use family mediation, which is promoted by family courts as the preferred method for achieving divorce settlements and making arrangements for children.
You will usually need to show proof that you have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before being allowed to take your claim for a financial settlement to a family court.
A voluntary settlement agreed through mediation or other non-confrontational means will not automatically be legally binding, but it can be made so via a ‘Consent Order’.
You will need to have your solicitor draft a Consent Order, setting out the details of your agreed settlement, then apply to your local family court to approve the Order.
If you wish to apply for a Consent Order, you cannot do so until after your Divorce Decree Nisi is issued. Normally we advise delaying an application for the Divorce Decree Absolute to end your marriage until after the financial settlement is agreed, in order to avoid losing any rights you might have, for example in relation to pensions.
This will entirely depend on your circumstances, including how complicated your finances are and how amicable the relationship between you and your former partner is.
A significant factor in how long it takes to achieve a financial settlement will be whether you are able to agree a settlement voluntarily or whether court proceedings are required.
Making a settlement through mediation or collaborative law will almost always be significantly faster than if you need to apply to a court to make a settlement for you.
Pensions are usually considered to be assets of the marriage for the purposes of a divorce settlement, meaning that any pension you or your former partner currently receive or are due to receive can be included in the settlement.
Pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding under English law, however, they will usually be considered by a judge when making a divorce settlement, as long as the pre-nuptial agreement was correctly prepared and is fair.
You should therefore seek expert legal advice before attempting to reject any pre-nuptial agreement you signed before your marriage.
However, there are circumstances where a pre-nuptial agreement may be worth challenging, including where:
- Your circumstances have changed significantly e.g. you have had children or have received a significant inheritance
- You believe your spouse may have assets that were not disclosed in the pre-nup
- There are other issues with the way the pre-nup was prepared, meaning it may not be considered valid
For more insights into various issues related to divorce and other areas of family law, please take a look at our family law blogs.
Our divorce settlement expertise
Our divorce lawyers have decades of experience helping people to find the right divorce settlement. No matter how complex your finances or how challenging your personal circumstances, we can offer a carefully tailored approach shaped to your goals and concerns.
Our solicitors are accredited by the Law Society for Family Law and Children Law, recognising our expertise in these areas. Our divorce lawyers include Resolution trained collaborative lawyers, allowing us to offer the highest level of skill and expertise for these non-confrontational approaches to divorce.
We also have a Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) accredited property law team who can assist with any property issues related to your divorce, including buying and selling property, remortgaging and change of title.
Barcan+Kirby has also been recognised by the Law Society with their Lexcel accreditation reflecting the strength of our client services. We are also independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Speak to our divorce lawyers in Bristol today
We support individuals and families across the UK with all aspects of divorce from our six offices in Bristol and the surrounding area located in Bedminster, Bishopston, Clifton, Kingswood, Queen Square and Thornbury.