What is a Financial OrderIf your marriage or civil partnership has come to an end, then there will often be financial decisions to be made regarding the family home, how to divide up savings, possessions, property and pensions. If you have any children, there will also be the matter of child maintenance to consider.
If you are unable to agree on how these assets are to be divided, then you may be left with no other option but to apply for a financial order through the courts. If you are able to agree on how you wish to divide your assets, then the court can also approve this agreement.
Applying for a Financial OrderYou can approach the court to help you decide how you will split up your money, property and possessions. To do this you must apply for a financial order. This process is sometimes referred to as ‘ancillary relief’.
Going through this process will take time and cost you money. If possible, it’s a very good idea to try and settle things between yourselves.
Before you make a financial order application, you should check if mediation could help you reach an agreement. You can do this by having a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. In most cases, judges will expect you to have had at least one of these meetings. If you haven’t, they may ask you to before proceeding with your case.
To make your financial order application you must fill in a ‘Notice for an application for a financial order’. You can download a copy by clicking here
You then need to take your application, along with two completed copies of the form, to the court where your divorce is being dealt with.
You may have to pay a court fee to make an application for a financial order. The court fee is £240 if you and your husband, wife or civil partner have not agreed to the arrangements before you make the application.
If you’re applying for ‘consent order’ (a legal document that confirms an agreement you have already made) then the court fee is just £50.
If you’re on a low income or on benefits, you may be able to get a reduction on the fees.
Once you have made your application for a financial order, you will be given an appointment with a judge. This is known as the ‘First Appointment’. This appointment will be between 12 and 16 weeks from when you first made your application.
Providing a financial statement
Once again, you will need to complete another form. This document details your financial situation. This will include your financial position now and what you expect it to be in the future. Both parties must complete this form so that their financial position is clear to each other and to the court. A financial statement should be very detailed, and you’ll have to provide:
information about your family, including health and your standard of living before your relationship broke down
arrangements proposed for your children, including where they will live and if any maintenance payments have been agreed
details of all property owned, including the family home if you have one
bank and building society accounts and their balances
shares, life insurance or savings bonds you own
personal belongings worth more than £500
anything else that either of you may be able to convert into cash (like investment trusts)
information about any businesses you may own or have a share in
value and details about any pensions
your income (including any benefits you may get)
an estimate of what you think you will need to live on
other information about your husband, wife or civil partner or their behaviour that you think the court should know
This form must be sent to the court dealing with your divorce no later than 35 days before your First Appointment. You must also send a copy of this form to your spouse or civil partner. You or your solicitor will need to contact them to do this. This can be done by post.
What happens at the First Appointment?
Both parties usually have to attend the First Appointment in person. You will meet with a judge who will tell you how the case can be settled.
At this stage, if both parties and the judge agree, the judge can issue a ‘Final Order’. If there is no agreement, you will have to attend a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing.
What happens at the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing?
This is an informal meeting at court, but both parties must attend unless the court orders otherwise. The judge will again try to help you reach a financial agreement.
If you are still unable to reach an agreement, the judge will decide a date for a final hearing.
What happens at the final hearing?
The judge at the final hearing will not be the same judge who was at the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing.
At the final hearing, if you still can’t reach agreement, the judge will make a decision based on all the evidence. This decision will be shown on a ‘Final Order’ giving details of any arrangements that have to be made as part of the order. Both parties have to obey this decision.
If you have any questions regarding financial orders or if you would like help in applying for one please telephone 0333 2070 601