Financial Orders: A Trainee Solicitor’s Primer

stowe family law leedsIt was somewhat eerie walking through town today on my way to the Stowe Family Law office in Leeds. The usual packed streets of the city centre resembled a ghost town! It is Christmas Eve however, and I am very much looking forward to spending tomorrow with my loved ones. The streets are empty, but my desk is not! I have many tasks to complete before I leave Stowe Family Law LLP for the Christmas break!

My day is starting with an Attendance Note from a conference I took note in last week. The conference was very informative and I must now compile the all of the relevant information into a document, which can be reviewed on a later date.

Much of my note is focused on the Financial Orders made available upon divorce. Once a marriage has irretrievably broken down, and consent to divorce is given by both parties, the most contentious issue is how they can achieve a financial settlement. This can be a quarrelsome issue as if one party feels as though they have been wronged they sometimes take the view that it entitles them to a substantially bigger share of the matrimonial assets. This is just one of the many reasons ancillary relief proceedings can be extremely difficult however. The Courts (unfortunately for the wrong party) do not deal with the emotional fall outs within the relationship; instead they deal solely with the finances, using factors listed in s25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act to guide them on the appropriate Order to be made.  I think it necessary that I now tell you what Orders are available!

The Court has the power to make the following Orders with regard to the finances:

  • Interim maintenance;
  • Long-term maintenance;
  • Lump sum payment;
  • Transfer of property; and
  • Pension sharing Orders
  • Child maintenance if the CSA do not have jurisdiction

The orders are not mutually exclusive, and the court can make the whole range of orders in any one case. The starting point for the division of the matrimonial assets is 50/50 but, in some cases, the Court will consider whether there should be a departure from equality taking into account factors listed under Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. These include:

 

  1. The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the Court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire;
  2. The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
  3. The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;
  4. The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;
  5. The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after home or caring for the family;
  6. The conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would be in the opinion of the Court be inequitable to disregard it;
  7. In the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring

Each case is thus heard of a case-by-case basis. The facts with regard to finances are different in every case, and thus different Orders are appropriate for each case. The Court’s primary aim is to provide a fair settlement, one which ultimately caters for both parties’ needs.

I am now going to get on with my work… otherwise I fear Santa may be leaving coal for me this year.

Merry Christmas to all, from the trainee solicitors and paralegals at Stowe Family Law!

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